New Twitter mole in Canberra. First there was @MacqStObserver, the bitchy insider account at NSW parliament that kept hacks and flacks guessing on its identity (only to mysteriously disappear late last week). Now we present @CanberraInsider, which since launching on Saturday has begun dishing the dirt in federal political circles. Some choice cuts:

“Few glasses of red, telling story of Cabinet Minister who keeps wife’s positive pregnancy test in his Parliament House desk draw.”

“Who is the marginal MP in Sydney said to be quickly reconsidering their future before the election?”

“Parl Sec gives local journo one sentence statement on non controversial issue this week — then begs for it to be omitted from story.”

“Tired eyes on Monday morning, Minister? Social networking at 2am will do that to you.”

“Minister says ‘arksed’ and ‘huged’ in live interview. Press minder winces and looks to weekend.”

So who’s behind this latest anonymous political mole? Bureaucrat? MP staffer? Gallery hack? Interested rabble-rouser? They weren’t saying when Crikey tweeted for info: “No clues, but its not crap.” And they promise to keep things above the belt: “Trying not to rely on hearsay and put a bit of history/discussion into it as well. ala West Wing Report who I love.” The avatar may reveal their political leanings, but let the guessing games begin …

More in the DJs v Myer war. Sure, we’re shamelessly being used by department store giants with their bitchy tips, but we enjoy it. The latest tat comes as an article appeared in The Australian this morning talking about how Myer’s online sales are tripling each week. But our insider — we’ll let you guess where they’re from — asks: “Has anyone else noticed that Myer’s full-year sales of $3.16 billion are between $50 million and $100 million lower than what the ailing brand achieved in its last year under Coles Myer ownership in FY05/06? And, that’s despite opening eight new stores.”

The retail tipster is even kind enough to give us a little history lesson: “Myer inherited 59 stores when private equity firm TPG bought the business in mid 2006. So, 65 or so months later, eight new stores (which should be doing between $20 million and $50 million a year in sales), and the brand has gone so far backwards that no-one has really noticed. Check Myer’s own financial statement — in their first year of full ownership they reported sales of roughly $3.2 billion, which was in line with the previous year. At some point someone’s going to wake up to the fact that aggressive profit growth from savage cost reduction is not sustainable. Sure we’ve GFC Mark 1 and now Mini Me GFC, but really …”

Not that it ends there. For the final zinger: “Maybe it’s more than the economic environment. Maybe people just don’t want to shop at a retailer where it’s hard to get served.” Over to you Myer …

Got off Scott free. Last Friday Crikey pointed out that ABC boss Mark Scott had got in a little trouble with the union after he cited the quality of his own network’s broadcasts — community TV-like — for boning state football coverage in South Australia during a radio interview. Graeme Thomson, ABC Section Secretary, was demanding an apology. But the quote was taken out of context, says Scott, in a letter to Thomson which contains a transcript of the troublesome interview …

Rather than comparing ABC coverage to community television, what Scott said was: “If you talk to the SANFL they know the reason audiences are falling is that people are watching very lavishly-produced sport on other networks. If, in fact, the gap between what you are watching in the AFL and the SANFL gets greater and greater and really we are broadcasting what looks and feels like community television rather than professional sports broadcasts, then I am not sure the AFL and the SANFL are as interest in that. No slur on the professionalism of ABC staff was intended or implied … My comments were a defence of our current commentary, not an attack on it.”

Herald Sun sub at The Age. How’s this for a daily deal: your favourite Melbourne newspaper at 70% off. Wheeling and dealing hub Living Social posted this deal last week …

Whatever the shortfall in revenue the Hun would have justified its investment when it saw an ad for the offer on the website of bitter rival The Age. Seems a Living Social promo was flashing the Hun subscription deal on one of its Age ads. We understand embarrassed Age staff quickly took it down.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey