Walkleys hangovers bite hard. It took you long enough. Finally, some decent gossip from journalism’s night of nights, the Walkley Awards held in Brisbane on Sunday night. One spy teases:

“Which Courier-Mail middle manager put his foot in it by loudly declaring the entertainment at the Walkleys (renowned classical guitarist Karen Schaupp) was excruciatingly boring and akin to having an enema? The rude and scathing attack was heard by none other than Schaupp’s husband who was on hand supporting his pregnant wife and who happened to be a dinner guest on the same table. While Schuapp’s music was no doubt beautiful and technically brilliant, many red-faced guests quietly agreed it was not the most appropriate entertainment for a room full of thirsty journalists.

Meanwhile …

“One of Brisbane’s most well-known and respected political reporters enjoyed the benefits of new Walkleys sponsors for 2011 Premium Wine Brands and was seen gurgling and almost splitting his head open on the boom when staggering to the toilets just half way into the program. He excused himself from his table and stood to the side of the room but was unable to remain upright and after wandering to the gents was not seen again for the rest of the evening.”

Uni bullying: more tell their story. Lots more information after our item yesterday on bullying at the University of Sydney. Some of which gets personal and isn’t for publication (but we appreciate the feedback). And as one responder wrote, the problems that lead to harassment are felt in plenty of other universities, too:

“I worked at another Australian university for many years and I’ve seen and heard about much worse behaviour, particularly as money has become increasingly scarce, teaching loads have gone up, and respected academic leaders have been replaced with ‘professional’ managers (that is, bean counters and their cronies). Towards the end of my time I actually felt like the hapless protagonist in one of those hilarious campus novels — my whole life had become a convoluted plot full of grotesque egos and absurd, excruciating situations. Trouble was, there weren’t nearly enough jokes to make it worth turning the next page.

“Things finally came to a head when someone in the faculty began making snide comments, and ultimately physical threats, against a friend of mine. The victim was someone both gentle and greatly admired by her students. Attempting to play the chivalrous male, I eventually convinced her to document and then report the bullying behaviour, and bugger me if that didn’t turn out to be a seriously bad move. After a preliminary investigation, the various layers of university management did almost everything in their power to deny, obfuscate, and ultimately bury the whole situation under a mountain of bureaucratic bullshit.

“Eventually, the situation was ‘resolved’ when the victim transfered to another site. The bully, of course, was not so inconvenienced and simply stayed put. Me? I was the recipient of a very lucrative invitation to f-ck off, which I took. I haven’t worked in academia since, and I doubt I ever will … at least not with any luck!”

Ho, ho, ho: Christmas is cancelled. We’ve been told after our tip yesterday on putting an axe through the Victorian public service to keep a close eye on the State Trustees office. Staff morale has been “absolutely shattered”, according to an insider. And even worse: the Christmas party has been cancelled.

Which reminds us: we still want to hear your festive stories. Where’s the party this year? Who’s on the bill? And have the bean counters tapped the keg? Drop us line or use the anonymous form if you’re worried about the boss finding out! The Crikey elves know how to keep secrets.

The VIP Melbourne wine tasting. Speaking of festive shindigs, which high-profile Melbourne player has invited captains of industry and entertainment to his palatial abode for an exclusive wine tasting next month? We’re told it will be quite the night.

Fighting amid Melbourne councils’ private polls. Stephen Mayne, Crikey contributor and Manningham Shire councillor, reports:

Over the next two weeks, Victoria’s 78 councils will largely go behind closed doors to conduct private ballots to decide who will be mayor in 2012, the final year of a four-year term. The idea is that, no matter how bitter the confidential contest, councillors then unanimously front the AGM to publicly endorse whoever was privately selected. It’s a system ripe for deal-making, factional intrigue and patronage.

The horse-trading is always most intense in the final year of a council term as there are no second chances and the winner gets the benefit of a higher public profile and an extra $50,000 salary to potentially spend on the getting re-elected in October 2012. The last time a private mayoral ballot was over-turned in public, it generated a spectacular bunfight at  Moreland in 2009, as Crikey noted. We hear the most interesting mayoral struggle this time is being played out in Hobson’s Bay in Melbourne’s western suburbs where Labor’s local rising star Luba Grigorovitch is contesting the ballot against deputy mayor Tony Briffa, a combative former ALP and Greens member who now styles himself as a community independent (we explained the background on September 6).

Briffa’s mayoral tilt is complicated by the fact that his s-x change has fascinated everyone from 60 Minutes to the Herald Sun, and the original finding of five breaches of the Local Government Act has continued to dog him. Former mayor Peter Hemphill, who doubles as grains reporter for News Limited’s Weekly Times, petitioned the original code of conduct hearing. However, after Briffa delivered what many regarded as a deliberately sarcastic apology to the resident he vilified, Hemphill backed up for another shot. After the second councillor conduct panel hearing had been completed, but before the decision was handed down, Briffa aborted the process and elected to take it straight to VCAT as a serious misconduct hearing.

For this process he retained no less than Nicholas Pullen, a heavy legal hitter from way back who spends hours every day at Channel Ten overseeing The Project. Lawyers love it when councillors opt for the VCAT option because the Brumby government’s amendments to the Local Government Act requires that councils pay the legal bills of all sides. As the bills mount, some councils have decided to walk away from contested misconduct hearings at VCAT.

Briffa’s original penalty was an apology to the resident he abused, plus 12 months mentoring by an independent luminary under the supervision of the Hobsons Bay mayor. But what if he is mayor himself? And the big question: which way will Labor councillor Bill Tehan and Senator Stephen Conroy’s local mayor jump? We hear it’s an issue which has been exercising the good senator himself along with his great factional opponent and fellow “dalek” Kim Carr, who is sponsoring Grigorovitch’s career in the Left faction.

Hey kids, it won’t work and will hurt. The fight against mandatory pre-commitment technology on poker machines has reached the ovals of kids’ sport. One concerned parent alerted Crikey to an email from their Brisbane rugby league club’s development officer with a flier for the pro-gambling lobby. It said: “For more information please visit www.wontworkwillhurt.com.au. Your support will help all clubs including North’s St Joseph’s. Please attend on Sunday at Norths Seniors if you can.”