Promoting pollie pay debate. The hysteria on politicians’ pay is put into perspective by a public service insider:

“It is my understanding that federal politicians have had four ‘promotions’ over the past 20-30 years. I personally recollect when the back-bencher pay rate was equivalent to a public servant section head (EL2) and went up to SES Band I (branch head) and then SES Band II (division head). I have met someone who remembers when the equivalent public service salary was a mid-level manager/policy adviser (EL1). I don’t know where this is documented, but it is an interesting perspective on politicians salaries. Of course as well as these ‘promotions’ each level has been experiencing salary increases.”

Perhaps this is a more effective way to think of pollies’ salaries, rather than the problematic nature of spiking salaries according to merit or hard work, as Stephen Bartos outlined in yesterday’s Crikey. Tell us what you think …

A whole lot of frequent flyer points. Forget abolishing the gold pass, what about the unclaimed travel backlog that this tipster has tallied up? “The Labor government talks about efficiency dividends and yet a large percentage of Commonwealth departments and agencies have unclaimed travel — that is, booked airfares with Qantas that have never been used. This occurs when travel is postponed and departments just book another flight instead of using existing bookings.” Apparently one portfolio department alone has $300,000 of unclaimed airfares. “After 12 months this will be lost.”

Not so Happy Feet in Redfern. Yet another disgruntled film industry observer muses on the effects of subsidies for films that aren’t exactly true blue. George Miller’s studio may hit troubles times, they report:

“With Happy Feet 2 completed the generous subsidy provided by the NSW government to the joint venture of Kennedy Miller Mitchell and Omnilab to set up a visual effects/motion capture studio at Carriage Works in Redfern is in serious question. The staff have been laid off and it appears there was never a coherent business plan to make the studio sustainable. How much money was given to the joint venture by the NSW government to establish the studio?

“Meanwhile, principal Dr George Miller is now lobbying the federal government to give gaming creators the 40% producer offset (a tax rebate from the ATO). Why are 40% manufacturing subsidies being sought for these industries? As Hollywood shops the world for subsidies and the revenue flows to LA with only short-term employment for the creators in Australia, is yet another government going to be starstruck and believe all this? I’d be calling in the Productivity Commission.”

Did the ABC cancel Christmas? Word is the ABC won’t hold a Christmas party at its Ultimo HQ for staff this year. “Usually staff contribute $10 or so to have a function in the ABC foyer and studios, but not this year,” says our insider. And they’re not happy. “Maybe they can’t afford it after giving Mark Scott a huge pay rise. In a recent email to staff, Scott said: ‘It was a year when so much was demanded of us and so much was willingly given.’ Just not given by ABC management. It is pretty f-cked if a big corporation can’t even do something this basic for their staff. They thought nobody would notice, but somebody has.”

Spotted, plus an ironic rider. An eagle-eyed skater sent in this lil’ tip: “Rapper Lil Wayne is in Australia touring with Eminem. While Eminem was checking out the Melbourne Museum’s Tutankeum exhibition yesterday, Lil Wayne was spotted skating at the suburban Mitcham Skate Park.” Meanwhile: “The famously short-statured rapper requests shrimp for his rider.” Nice.

Snooping on a hardware rival. And another sighting: did staff of hardware giant Bunnings really take a bus tour to a Melbourne store of new rival, the Woolworths-owned Masters, this week?

Gender inequality in DFAT ads. You would think given the amount of money the Department of Foreign Affairs is spending on advertisements across the print media, they’d get someone to proof them. It seems “Sue” has had a s-x change …