Farewell, Harto, from your friends at News. News Limited is a company of the future. So with CEO John Hartigan heading for the door, the company is passing around the farewell card — online. Group editorial director Campbell Reid dispatched this email to staff yesterday:

From: “Corporate Affairs”
Date: 16 November 2011 3:24:57 PM AEDT
To: “Group-DL-News Ltd Staff”
Subject: Harto’s Farewell

John Hartigan’s last day after 41 years at News is on November 30.

We have set up an electronic farewell card so that any member of staff can include their name on the card, and include a message as well if you have one.

To include your name or message follow this link to the NewsSpace website: XXXX

You have until 5pm Friday, 25 November.

For every name that’s included, News will donate $1 to indigenous reconciliation projects in John’s name.

No, we’re not giving you the website address. We know what you people are like. And we wonder whether the $1 donation applies if the message is less than complimentary. You’ve got until Friday week to leave your fond farewells, News staff.

Where Obama went to school. Until this morning the details of Barack Obama’s Canberra school visit was a secret guarded by his extensive security detail and a few local insiders. But Campbell High students and parents had been speculating that their school was the chosen one for the visit after school authorities spent yesterday cleaning up the front of the building. They were right.

Bligh picks Obama over members. Meanwhile, Queensland premier Anna Bligh was in Canberra last night dining with the US president. But we’re told she had to stand up ALP members to do it, cancelling a dinner with 100 of the faithful. Says our spy: “Anna Bligh is addressing the problem of haemorrhaging party membership in a rather idiosyncratic way.”

Former minister takes to the bus. A Crikey reader in Sydney reports:

“This afternoon I caught the M30 bus from the intersection of Campbell and George streets in Sydney. As I validated my ticket I looked across to a row of seats allocated for the disabled, elderly and pregnant. Reclining languidly across two of the three seats in the row was former defence minister Robert Hill. He must dislike being recognised because he broke eye contact and looked out the window. The rest of the bus trip was entirely peaceful for the former minister. He may even have been entertained by the woman who boarded the bus at Railway Square with a Maltese terrier in a pram. She sat in the very first seat while the pram and her sleeping puppy mostly blocked the path of passengers trying to enter the bus. He must have had an engagement at the University of Sydney because he and his two travel cases hopped off on City Road near International House. Is the Comcar in for a service?”

More moves in ABC Adelaide radio. ABC Local Radio managers have several key slots to fill in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. And apparently there are rumblings within the city of churches media that breakfast co-host Matthew Abraham (he shares the slot with David Bevan) may not be around next year.

Milk duds supermarket consumers. More on milk-gate, after one Crikey reader complained yesterday the taste of generic moo juice had changed. It seems they weren’t alone: “My daughter was having ongoing tummy trouble and we finally traced it to the ‘home brand’ Woollies milk. She swapped to Dairy Farmers and all was fine. The rest of us also noticed that it tasted better. It looks like you do get what you pay for.”

Telstra fail on the phone. A disgruntled Telstra customer writes:

“The task late yesterday morning: finding out from Telstra the size and cost of a dongle by ringing the telco for assistance, rather than schlepping to the nearest Telstra shop, which is kilometres away. So a call is made, an Asian (Indian?) sounding woman answers, I ask about a dongle, get asked, “why not go to a Telstra shop?”. Point out that I will, but was researching. The voice insists, wants to know where I live. I name a suburb in Sydney’s inner east. Sounds of typing. I say, all I want to know is cost and capacity. The voice returns to apologise that she can’t help because ‘all our systems are down.’ Everything, access to the Telstra system, the internet. So much for technology and cheap call centres.”

Peter Fray

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