From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Run, MPs, run. Apparently members of the federal parliamentary ALP have taken to running the other way in the corridors of parliament house every time a member of the Coalition is spotted, in a hilarious homage to Tony Abbott.

Sackwatch: Newman’s PS purge. “You should start a new headline: I wish we could Sackwatch,” quips one reader. They continued:

“A number of former Labor operatives in QLD who have long since left political offices and have landed around town in government owned corporations and major corporations have been advised they are being watched by the Newman administration and warned to stay away from new Ministers and their staff. The LNP are so paranoid and suspicious of the pubic service, a small team responsible for locating former Labor party staffers is keeping an eye on those were were once powerful or continue to remain involved with the party. In some cases, former Labor staffers have maintained no association with the party since their departure but any former senior adviors or party organisers are being squeezed and are preparing for the bullying to start.”

Sackwatch: cuts at Queensland Health. We hear total staff cuts — through removing temps and offering redundancies — at Queensland Health will top 8000.  The “latest plan to save money is to recruit less qualified and junior health practitioner allied health workers to replace experienced staff who go to the private sector”, according to one health worker. Apparently a looming dispute with unions is part of the strategy.

Sackwatch: Telstra heads overseas. A telecommunications insider spills on what’s happening at our biggest telco, noting while some lose their jobs, others rub cash in colleagues’ faces:

“While many business units see that the move to online means some roles will eventually go, it is heartbreaking to watch people with decades worth of experience be shown the door. Cost cutting is everywhere and travel bans continue which is understable and not unusual at this time of year.

“All that aside, someone needs to watch the parity of the rich verses poor within the company itself. Telstra’s famed ‘Enterprise & Government’ team are well known for their lavish expenditure and extravagant parties and corporate hospitality. And these are not just for customers but also internal events for staff like one held in Brisbane last week. As this group is a huge revenue earner for the company selling to government and the big end of town, they splurge and spoil themselves. At Telstra they are the ‘least liked’ group of people as they are all well paid salesmen on massive commissions. Their egos and expenditures are well known and for the rest of the staff, it’s a real kick in the guts.

“Someone should be asking Telstra’s Enterprise & Government people: do you think it is appropriate for you guys to be rubbing it in the face of the rest of the business who are tightening their belts? Enough of the extravagance. How about getting on with the business of doing business.”

Sackwatch: inside the world of News. Yesterday we reported that 13 News Digital Media staff had got the boot. Apparently our tipster had dud info. Now we’re hearing whispers (from another insider) that 12 production jobs on The Daily Telegraph will be going. Apparently staff at The Australian are safe at this stage. Contrary to earlier reports, it seems Kim William’s big restructuring plan won’t be released next week. And note that News.com.au — where three staff were made redundant yesterday — is now run by Nicole Sheffield, who recently replaced Sandra Hooke as CEO. Seems she’s clearing out staff across her entire portfolio …

Sackwatch: more from Fairfax. Patrick Francis, editor of Fairfax’s monthly Australian Farm Journal — Australia’s only national farm publication — was informed on May 18 that the June issue, out this week, would be the last. The information came out of the blue, but was for financial reasons. The newsroom closed its door for the last time yesterday. One regular Farm Journal reader — who discloses their relationship to a person involved in the magazine — lamented the loss:

“For more than 30 years Australian Farm Journal (and its predecessor FARM) has been a stable monthly friend arriving in the mailboxes, or on the local newsagency shelves, of farmers around the country.

Australian Farm Journal has a solid reputation among farmers and the agricultural industries as pushing the boundaries and questioning the status quo. Its articles showcase innovative and different farming techniques, and ideas that question the dominant agricultural paradigms. It has highlighted business, environment and production stories that inspire and pique curiosity. It is a magazine with a loyal following and a magazine that has commanded respect. Its friends extend to locations across the globe.

“As a rural publication it served as an important link to remote areas, bringing news of what other farmers, scientists and industry bodies were doing in distant places. Scintillating discussion about the important issues facing farmers across this nation will of course continue, in various forms. But there will be a hole left by the decision to end the last remaining generalist agricultural magazine in the country.”

Crikey spoke to Francis, who worked on the magazine since it began as FARM in 1980. He became editor in 1986 and relaunched it as Australian Farm Journal in 1991. He also launched Australian Landcare magazine, a online quarterly magazine. The latest edition of Landcare was published online yesterday, but its website and content — and all new content from Australian Farm Journal — has already been removed by Fairfax today. Francis was offered a deployment to a national newspaper, but declined as he saw it as a demotion. Therefore he was terminated without payment.

… and don’t hang dirt on Kiwi cousins. Fairfax’s regional Aussie subediting jobs are all being shipped off across the Tasman, the company announced this week. One New Zealand journalism watcher warns of the journalism standards of our neighbours:

“Australians should be extremely worried about this development, New Zealand journos are totally subservient to their corporate masters. The head of media studies at Waikato University made the comment that he doubted that there were more than six journos in the country, the rest were practising PR. An incredible statement considering there were over 600 qualifying in journalism every year.”

Did he really say that? Well, for a start there is no “head of media studies” at Waikato University. The subject coordinator for Screen & Media Studies at Waikato is a female, Dr Ann Hardy. Professor Dan Fleming said it wasn’t him either, telling Crikey: “My inclination instead is to stop it in its tracks as it’s a nonsensical comment. In fact I can’t recall saying anything about the state of journalism at all in recent months …”

What a breath of fresh air from a journalism academic! Plus, we counted nine spelling and grammar errors in this (now edited) tip, so it seems odd to judge our Kiwi friends’ subediting and journalism skills.

Count me twice. The Australian Electoral Commission just launched its Count Me In campaign, a nationwide hunt to find potential voters missing from the electoral role. Catchy name! But does the AEC know the Disability Services Commission already has a Count Me In campaign, launched in 2009?

*Do you know more? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed-anonymous form.

Peter Fray

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