Where will Barry O’Farrell cut next? The recent drama around cuts to foster carer payments in NSW is just the tip of the iceberg, reckons one anonymous insider from Macquarie Street:

“After a weird post-election twilight zone in 2011, it seems like the O’Farrell government is finally moving and people are being made to work on budget cuts across all agencies. There was a magic figure of $800 million in savings from cutting programs in last year’s budget papers that nobody in the media seemed to noticed. Because it has taken so long to identify the savings, now more money has to be found by cutting things the government doesn’t consider to be ‘priorities’ — even if it means cutting services. Lots of unhappy public servants. Expect more leaks.”

Hopefully to us, please. Do you work in government and know where the razor is cutting budgets? Drop us a line or stay anonymous using the online form. Meanwhile, we’ve been told to watch out for the departure today of the head of another large government agency. Says a separate insider:

“O’Farrell may not have had a night of the long knives but the past 12 months looks like the year of the long knives, with many of the people who were directors-general at the last election now gone. Given that most have been dismissed without reason, the total compensation payouts must now be in the millions of dollars.”

Jones under threat for gay marriage stance. More Labor in-brawling from the seat of Throsby, where federal MP Stephen Jones faces a backlash for his support of the gay marriage bill to be put before parliament. NSW MP Noreen Hay, parliamentary leader of the NSW Labor Right faction, doesn’t much like left-winger Jones’ stance on same-s-x unions and moved a branch motion in December enshrining marriage as between a man and a woman.

So is Jones at risk of being disendorsed? That’s what we’re hearing from one branch operative, who says Hays — along with her husband, the branch president — will use the preselection process to ditch Jones for the 2013 poll. “The only way Jones will survive will be via national executive intervention — the same process that had him parachuted in under a national deal between the left and right,” our insider says. “But with carnage expected at the next election all bets are off as to whether deals like that will stand in 2013.” We put questions to Hays but as she was in parliament we’re yet to hear back.

Airline crash? Small carrier at risk. There are unconfirmed reports today that a small but ambitious Australian airline has gone broke. It has certainly gone offline and nobody associated with the carrier can be found. Our aviation man Ben Sandilands is on it.

Peter Fray

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