Abbott couldn’t wait for a massage. Did Tony Abbott jump the queue after a ride in Adelaide? A perturbed Crikey correspondent reports:

“I wasn’t surprised to learn that Action-Man-Abbott had invited himself along to last Friday’s BUPA Challenge segment of the Tour Down Under — the 140km ride for the dinky-di Aussie MAMIL (Middle-Aged Man in Lycra). After the ride, I was fortunate enough to be awaiting my turn for the brief massage provided by the ride sponsor (Santos). Having waited 90 minutes, with my name about to come up, you can imagine my horror when the orderly process was suddenly interrupted — by none other than a smirking Tony Abbott, who was promptly escorted directly to the massage table. No waiting for our Tony, no orderly queueing with us regular MAMILS, just an outstanding feat of queue-jumping that left us feeling like we’d been taken for a ride.”

Fairfax staff nervous under the axe. Morale has hit an all-time low in the Melbourne offices of Fairfax Community News as staff wait to see whether their titles will be scrapped and their jobs made redundant. Since Fairfax bought back in to defector Antony Catalano’s revenue-stealing The Weekly Review, staff at Fairfax’s existing Melbourne Weekly and other local rags are worried they’ll be left unemployed. It seems highly unlikely Fairfax will keep producing its Weekly given the competition with the Catalano venture.

One Fairfax insider tells us management is keeping mum while the competition watchdog examines the joint-venture arrangement announced in December. Job losses seem inevitable if it is given the green light, but until then staff on the Fairfax titles keep working in the dark without a word from bosses on what might come of their jobs. We couldn’t reach Catalano this morning to see if he knew what Fairfax was planning.

No super profits for fund managers. We’ve been told to look out for some large industry super funds announcing very large losses for the six months to December 31. Seems the European crisis will bite particularly hard.

Council quizzing on poker machines? Has the City of Port Phillip in Melbourne hired an agency to ring locals surveying their thoughts on poker machines, as one ratepayer tells us? And why? We put the question to several people at Town Hall but nobody seemed to know about it. We’ll let you know …

Manufacturer closing up shop? Via the 3AW Rumour File: “Caller says a major manufacturing company will announce 400 forced redundancies will take place in March and April due to a drop in sales, loss of accounts and competition.” Which company?

Weather grounds planes in Melbourne. A question from a Melbourne-based frequent-flier:

“I fly Melbourne-Sydney each week, and come home to Melbourne on Friday afternoons. Most weeks we slow down or hold out of Melbourne and do the requisite wide circles over Mt Buller, Falls Creek or Eildon due to congestion in Melbourne, so the pilot tells us. Last Friday, the plane landed at Melbourne after a 15-minute hold due to traffic, and there was one plane on the ground about to take off. Both runways were operating, and there was definitely no Heathrow-style queues of planes clogging the airport. It is very rare after holding or slowing to see planes queuing up to take off in Melbourne.  Would love to know why we are forced to hold when there seems to be nothing going on at Melbourne Airport?”

Our aviation man Ben Sandilands reckons it was weather causing the delays, with planes queuing due to thunderstorm diversions. It seems to have grounded flights from Perth, too, as another reader reports: “At least four Qantas Perth to Melbourne flights were cancelled yesterday. We turned up at the airport for a 9am boarding, got on the plane, sat around, got off the plane, and finally left Perth at nearly 5pm. The staff were very good, but it’d be nice if Qantas, or someone, would acknowledge that there was an issue, and let we the people know what it was.”

E-book rip-offs: keep them coming. Lots of good feedback from our item on Friday reporting big mark-ups on e-books when purchased in Australia. We’re collating your responses and asking why it’s the case — keep the feedback coming via email or the anonymous tips page. A full report later this week.

Peter Fray

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