Christmas cancelled at a big cost. Belated word from Canberra about the departmental Christmas party rescheduled — at a cost of $10,000. We’re told the party — long before arranged, booked and paid for — clashed with the minister’s diary and had to be changed. As our insider says: “$10,000 to change arrangements for one out of 800-odd people in an environment of cost cutting and efficiency dividends that I understand is forcing people to work 10-hour days, seven days a week? Sounds a bit hypocritical.”

Boss dismissed for money matters. Who’s the CEO of an education body forced out over financial issues? We’re investigating the claims …

ANU explains ‘bold’ staff cuts. Australian National University staff are still reeling over plans to slash up to 150 jobs from campuses (let us know what you’re hearing; anonymity assured). Crikey has obtained the email sent to staff from Vice Chancellor Ian Young:

Colleagues,

ANU will today begin a broad, consultative process aimed at reducing our activities to save $40 million (5 per cent of revenue) in order to protect the health of this great University.

We are not alone in having global and national financial circumstances cut into our bottom line. Investment returns have declined in recent years. The 2012 budget indicates investment returns will be $30 million less than in 2011. This reduction directly impacts on the funds available to operate the University.

In addition, the significant capital investments made in recent years mean that depreciation costs have increased by approximately $10 million compared with 2011. A number of these issues were discussed in my 13 December 2011 email to staff on the 2012 University recurrent budget. These external factors, together with substantial wage increases (4.5 per cent in 2012) and services expenses (increase of $26 million in 2012) have meant that the 2012 budget has a projected surplus of only $14 million, or less than 1.5 per cent of total revenue. The sector average is 4 per cent, a figure which the Commonwealth monitors as a measure of financial health.

We have now reached a point at which there is no option but to take bold action. If we do not act to reduce spending the University will be unable to invest in excellence, and will suffer a gradual decline in international standing and quality. That is not a future that any member of the ANU community wants.

As part of the draft discussion paper released to ANU staff today, it is proposed that the $40 million figure be reached by saving up to $25 million in staff expenses, and up to $15 million in improved business practices. It is proposed that cost reductions be strategic, with clear decisions made as to activities that the University can no longer support. Such decisions will be difficult, but will ultimately result in a stronger institution.

I understand that change of this magnitude causes stress and upset for all, and we do not undertake it lightly. I would ask ANU staff to join with me to identify the best way to make these savings and ensure ANU can continue to live up to the expectations of our staff, students and the national and international communities we live in.

The process we begin today will continue for most of this calendar year, and leave us in better health for 2013 and beyond. The first step is to read and consider the draft document: http://about.anu.edu.au/strategy-reviews/financial

Comments and responses on the draft are sought from all staff, and can be made at: [email protected] until 5pm on 20 April 2012.

Pedal power against park’s bumpy ride. Sydney’s lycra army is ready to roll and rally to “dump the bumps” — that is, Centennial Park’s proposal to install speed bumps on the cycleway within the park. One biker tells us:

“Local cyclists are outraged that the proposed speedbumps will make the park a no-go zone for most riders, while ignoring simple measures to improve safety such as relocating the children’s cycleway (a proposal which the Centennial Park Trust has long ignored, much to the annoyance of parents and cyclists alike). Up to 1000 cyclists are expected to gather at the Centennial Park Kiosk tomorrow at 7am to rally against the proposed changes.”

Correction on Bruno Bouchet item. Yesterday Crikey followed up a story on Bruno Bouchet, a producer on Kyle Sandilands’ 2Day FM radio show, with further information in Tips and Rumours. But the item, in fact, erroneously referenced another Bruno Bouchet, a successful novelist and copywriter. There is absolutely no link between this Bruno Bouchet and the radio producer that featured in Monday’s story and one should never have been drawn. The error is entirely ours and we apologise unreservedly for any hurt caused. Bruno Bouchet (the writer) contacted us to say:

“Normally I’m a fan of Crikey and would have liked nothing better than to have a screen grab of my website in Tips and Rumours but, being the left-leaning gentle soul that I am, I was pretty horrified by this association. Strange as it may seem that there are two people with such an unusual name, let this be an lesson to writers everywhere on the importance of fact checking.”

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