From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Read all the latest on Newman. Submissions are closed for the Queensland Literary Awards, established after the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards saw its funding slashed completely within days of Campbell Newman coming to power. Now being co-ordinated by authors Krissy Kneen and Matthew Condon, it has been reported that no prize money will be offered for the lit awards but the judging panel would remain the same for 2012. But this little taster from the Queensland Literary Awards Facebook page (referencing crowd-funding website Pozible) hints at something else:

Speaking of the Queensland and literature, bookly types up north have expressed surprise at the choice of Newman as the Queensland ambassador for the National Year of Reading. As his featured profile — he’s a big fan of military and historical tomes about Queensland, if you were wondering — reads:

“I’m delighted to feature as an ambassador for the National Year of Reading. It’s timely too as the Premier’s Reading Challenge was recently launched in Queensland, an initiative I believe will provide a wonderful opportunity to focus on improving the literacy standards of our young students. As a parent I am aware of the enormous benefit regular reading can have in improving a child’s literacy outcomes, class participation, thirst for knowledge and pleasure.

Apart from encouraging an active imagination, an enjoyment of books also allows the reader to learn about their world, develop literacy skills and opens up a wide range of educational opportunities.

As an annual challenge, the 2012 Premier’s Reading Challenge encourages all students, teachers, parents and carers to turn their attention to literacy by reading a wide range of books, not just for the purpose of learning but also as a fun hobby.”

Just don’t try and turn that “fun hobby” into a career as an author …

Newman’s payroll not a scandal. Last Friday we ran a tip about the Brisbane City payroll debacle being a nice contrast to the issues with Queensland Health. One tipster isn’t impressed:

“Interesting attempt on Friday to re-write history by linking Queensland Premier Campbell Newman with the Brisbane City Council payroll debacle when he was lord mayor. Yes BCC did get a new payroll system. Yes it was a shambles and yes it cost close to $30 million to fix. But no it was not Newman who bought it in. It was (surprise, surprise) the ALP in the BCC. Newman was loudly on the record opposing the new system but at the time he was a minority lord mayor in a party-political council with a Labor majority. Labor used its numbers to force the purchase of the untested payroll (sound familiar?). Newman did not get the majority in BCC until 2008. Thousands of bus drivers went on to not be paid properly for years. The drama was all covered in the local papers.”

It seems it was, with someone else pointing us in the direction of a Courier-Mail story from 2008 about the payroll problems.

“Rate payers have pumped almost $30 million into fixing Brisbane City Council’s ‘basket case’ computerised payroll system — and it still doesn’t work.

“Lord mayor Campbell Newman admitted the council kept pouring funds into a ‘black hole’, but blamed the previous Labor administrations under Jim Soorley and Tim Quinn, which he said were responsible for its implementation.

“‘It was poorly conceived and poorly executed,’ Cr Newman said.”

Someone else tells us that at one point the council had to pay outdoor staff in cash as the new system didn’t work. But Queensland isn’t the only state who struggles with payroll system, notes one tipster:

“In about 1999 Customs botched the introduction of its new payroll system — Peoplesoft. Like Queensland Health, this resulted in thousands of staff not being paid and being underpaid thousands of dollars. Although it was fixed within about four months it was impossible to confirm whether pay due was reinstated. never saw it mentioned in the media once. “

Sackwatch: Dept of Transport cuts. Apparently June 20 is the day that Victorian Department of Transport staff will get told about the first wave of redundancies.

Politicians slammed for ignoring safety precautions. Nationals leader Warren Truss, MP Ken Wyatt and other pollies copped some flak from a rail executive after a picture appeared in Western Australia’s Examiner newspaper showing Truss et al standing at a rail crossing.

But a letter to the editor a week later from Paul Hamersley, general manager at Commercial Brookfield Rail, slammed the politicians’ behaviour.

“In response to the photograph of Gosnells mayor Dave Griffiths, Peter Abetz, Warren Truss, Ken Wyatt and Dave Harris (Examiner May 24), it pictures the gentlemen standing between two railway tracks, adjacent to the level crossing near Nicholson Road without appropriate protective clothing, safety footwear and, most importantly, authority.

… Trespassing on the rail corridor not only places both the photographer and their subjects at great risk but sends out the message that it is acceptable for members of the public to enter these areas, particularly when the subjects are not wearing the appropriate safety gear.

I do appreciate the aesthetic value of photographing members of the public on or around the railway tracks, however the safety of not just our employees but anyone who access the rail corridor is of paramount importance.”

Foster care cuts for special needs cases. We’re hearing rumours that when the NSW government privatisation of the foster care system comes into force on June 1 there will be no more respite care for special needs cases, and that children with special needs will be reclassified, leading to lower payments to their foster parents. Know anything more about it? Please email us.

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

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW