Forty days of protests. One Crikey tipster regular passes the Preterm Abortion Clinic on Elizabeth and Randle streets in Sydney’s Surrey Hills, and it seems the number of anti-abortion demonstrators are increasing in recent days. “I noticed on my way to work that the usual gaggle of idiots who protest outside this abortion clinic in Surry Hills had swelled and had taken on the 40 Days for Life banner. Will police be called in should these protesters swell in numbers and vitriol?”

Fair question, several commentators noted when the Occupy Melbourne and Sydney protests were broken up that police allowed demonstrators to harass women outside abortion clinics. We asked NSW Police whether police might get involved and they replied: “As with any protest activity, if there was an occurrence of anti-social or criminal behaviour, police would take appropriate action.”

The 40 Days for Life protests include 40 days of prayer, fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach. Let’s hope anti-social or criminal behaviour isn’t included in the “community outreach” part of proceedings.

Great Keppel! It’s Queensland election time, and one northern islander lover says the Queensland government is “trying to change the lease on Great Keppel Island and hand 80% of the island over to a private consortium to redevelop without conducting a proper public interest assessment.” Our understanding is that Tower Holdings bought the island resort and grazing leases — about 80% of the island — for $16.5 million in 2006 then shut the resort down tow years later. It’s now tried twice to get a new resort plan approved, with the latest plan including a 250-berth marina, 750 villas, 300 apartments and a 250-room hotel.

But that’s not the only Queensland island with lease issues, says our tipper:

“Again, another island head lease issue which the QLD government are attempting to ignore to the detriment of 150 individual lot holders. The island is Keswick Island, 15 miles North East of Mackay. The Beattie government removed a major clause from the head lease without consulting and obtaining approval from the 150 sub lessees. The Bligh government has continued to avoid this issue and dismisses the concerns of the lot owners. It doesn’t want to know as it is culpable. If you are interested I will send details.”

We are interested. Please send more details.

The bitter taste of government austerity. Yesterday Crikey reported on a tip that says government departments on tight budgets were cutting free tea, coffee and sugar for workers. But one poor public service insider spilled the coffee beans to us, noting this was no new trend:

“I’ve worked in a number (half a dozen or so) of federal and state government departments over the last few years, and have never had tea/coffee/sugar supplied, ever. The penny pinching was done long ago.”

He may have broken the spirit of the public service in other ways, but surely tea-loving Kevin Rudd would never have supported this.

But the public servant insider went on: “I’m a little surprised you didn’t bother doing any sort of fact checking. Surely there are some public servants working for Crikey!?” We know a lot of our readers are in the public service. Don’t cry over spilt milk you had to pay for, tip us off about the tight-arsed budgets and working conditions in your department.

From the skies. Tale of a Qantas plane losing power just after landing yesterday, from one concerned passenger:

QF12 (A380) arrived in Sydney yesterday morning at the gate and immediately lost its APU [auxiliary power unit, for those not up with aviation lingo] on arrival at the gate (before the aerobridge was connected).  It was silent and pitch dark for approximately two minutes before power was restored. Let’s hope it was just a switch miss-hit — imagine if the power was cut mid-air!

Not that frequent fliers should be too concerned. As our Qantas traveller explains: “A flight attendant was overheard explaining to passengers that the plane would simply ‘glide into the ocean’ if power was lost mid-air.” How reassuring.

Peter Fray

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