From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

How many staff will go from Treasury? A source who swears by their “reliable” status backs unconfirmed reports that Treasury will incur a 20% cut in staff numbers in the May budget — which could mean some 200 staff will go. “Voluntary redundancies have already been sought but insufficient numbers stepped forward, so the next step is the ‘tap on the shoulder’,” says our insider. “Needless to say staff morale has plummeted.

Older workers plan capped by head? Is it true the federal government’s new $1000 employment bonus for seniors will be capped at only 2500 per year for three years? Not much of an incentive if so …

Party games #1: Sunny Coast elections. Queensland goes back to the polls on Saturday for local government elections, and as we reported on Friday things are getting a little ugly on the Sunshine Coast. A local tells us:

“Given yesterday’s revelations about Peter Slipper it is more than a little curious that, starting yesterday, there has been an advert running on local TV linking mayoral candidate Michael Bloyce with Slipper. Coincidental? Bloyce has publicly admitted to being a proud LNP member but played down his role as Slipper’s campaign manager. The advert asks do we want Bloyce as mayor given his association with Slipper as his confidante and spin doctor for years. “The LNP is split about who to support as the Mal Brough faction supports Bloyce but, though claiming not to be an official LNP member, Mark Jamieson is also favoured by many in the LNP. Jamieson seems to have pulled in the biggest support, at least financially, with rumours he is also backed by the developer lobby.”

Party games #2: Liberal preselection in Robertson. From the Liberal Party branches, a disgruntled spy on the Central Coast report:

“The Liberal Party informed its members on Friday that it has installed Lucy Wickes as the candidate for Robertson for the next federal election. It has dumped the winnable Darren Jamieson, who lost by a fraction to Labor’s Deborah O’Neill at the last election. The Liberal Party has ignored the democratic process of preselection and its local members and played their dirty factional politics at their peril.  Wickes has not lived on the Central Coast for years, but has played her political game in Sydney and head office. She is the pawn of a back-room deal to dump the recent preselected candidate for Wyong in place of another from the ‘far right’ and install Wickes in Robertson as their choice from the ‘left’ . Their dirty politics is not welcomed on the Central Coast and it just be may the Liberal Party’s first loss come the next federal election.”

Consumer Affairs Victoria bullying claims (cont). More insight into what it’s like to work for government agency Consumer Affairs Victoria. Following on from recent insiders, another former staffer offers this:

“I didn’t personally have much trouble, but it’s always been a blokey, alcoholic workplace with who’s hot and who’s not being rather more governed by who drinks with who than on who’s more qualified/experienced. The freezing out described by another of your correspondents certainly goes on too. I never had a clear idea of whether it was better or worse than anywhere else, because I hadn’t spent much time in any other departments or in the private sector, but CAV does have its own particular style of cliquishness and certain people who can get away with outrageous behaviour.

“In among all this, they’re hypersensitive to words like ‘bullying’, perhaps because of their own consciousness of guilt, and either shun the person who named the behaviour in question (if the accused is in the club), or come down like a tonne of bricks on the alleged offender (if they’re not in the club), sometimes for an imagined slight. I saw a very capable young manager reduced to tears by a flimsy bullying complaint (he wasn’t in the in-group, so of course they crucified him and he left soon afterwards, with nobody quite sure what if anything he’d done wrong).”

Meanwhile, we’re still not clear about whether, as we suggested last week, Fair Work Australia is investigating a bullying claim from inside the organisation. Fair Work didn’t seem to know about it when we made contact, and Consumer Affairs Victoria deflected questions back to Fair Work.

Pundits drink to politics in Sydney. Spotted in a Double Bay bar late on Friday night: print and TV pundit Peter van Onselen, fellow adviser turned Australian columnist Troy Bramston and Kevin Rudd wing man Rhys Muldoon in heated conversation about politics after many beers.

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