Fairfax shuts down Sydney presses. Fairfax is closing presses at its Chullora plant in Sydney, shifting printing of regional papers elsewhere and perhaps signalling the start of the widely rumoured merger with News Limited’s printing operations. Fairfax Media Printing GM Paul Peters dispatched this memo to staff on Friday:

“I would like to advise that we will be decommissioning both C2 and D presses effective 24th December 2011 to allow these to be transferred to another site. This also means that the regional products that we currently print (Lithgow Mercury, Western Advocate, Western Times, Bathurst Domain, Oberon Review and Blayney Chronicle) will be transferred back to Dubbo effective 12th December 2011. The production and maintenance schedules are currently being amended to reflect these changes.”

The wider implications are unclear; Peters was not able to be contacted before Crikey‘s deadline and union representatives weren’t available. We first reported in August that 100 jobs could go as the company “rationalised” its print operations. Peters said then the company was exploring “either a joint venture arrangement with News Ltd, or if this is not viable, the development of a smaller Fairfax-owned new site”. A decision was due in three months, with implementation over two years. Will the Sydney move also be a forerunner to the future of the Fairfax plant at Tullamarine? We’ll keep you posted.

HuffPo set for Aussie launch next year. US online queen Arianna Huffington has already flagged she plans an Australian beachhead for her news and comment powerhouse The Huffington Post. We’re told by one source close to the planning to expect a launch mid-2012.

Travel plans for Age reporter. Popular Age reporter Carol Nader is flying away. “It’s sad, as I love The Age and I’ll miss the wonderful people here,” she tells us. “I’m going to have a break and do some travelling.”

Abbott lasered by UK band. “During Portishead’s set last night at the Harvest festival in Parramatta they projected onto their video screen footage of a gigantic Tony Abbott with laser beams coming out of his eyes. Machine Gun was a scary track to start with but this was horrifying.” Surely someone has the video footage  …?