From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Last one out … Fairfax staff leaving work last night were confronted with a large amount of packing boxes in the foyer.

“They may be for the rumoured clean up of one of the floors for leasing (yep, they are that cash strapped),” an insider said.

“Either way they didn’t send a nice message for staff leaving after six.”

Know the inside story on cutbacks at Fairfax or News Ltd? Let us know.

Vos billets, s’il vous plait! Melbourne commuters may need to brush up on their French — Yarra trams has French interns on board, and not everyone is happy about it. Some members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union have raised concerns that the program, which is subsidised by the French government, may put locals seeking an internship at a disadvantage.

A spokesman for Yarra Trams confirmed young French graduates were being hosted as interns in a scheme sponsored by French parent company Keolis. It’s understood the French government also helps cover costs.

The Yarra Trams spokesman said the French government endorses the scheme, called “Volontaire International en Entreprise”, and all graduates had an appropriate Australian visa. Reciprocally, one Australian student has headed to France. It’s not quite clear what the interns are doing, with the spokesman describing their duties as “working on various projects, in line with their field of expertise, supporting technical specialists/managers”.

With Yarra Trams cracking down on fare evaders, don’t be surprised if you’re busted by someone with a French accent. Tous a bord!

Darebin doings. The plot thickens around an allegedly “phantom” ALP meeting on municipal policy in Melbourne on Sunday. Crikey yesterday ran reports from an ALP insider that the meeting was cancelled at the last minute, perhaps because of protesters outside. Our source claimed some saw the meeting as a power-grab related to council elections.

But the co-conveners say the meeting went ahead as planned. Alison Donohue and David Redfearn from the Darebin Municipal Forum said four of the nine councillors attended, which was a quorum,  and “it was not at all a disappointing meeting”.

“In fact it was quite the opposite where many members expressed their views and opinions,” the co-conveners told Crikey.

They refuted claims that last-minute texts and phone calls went out to cancel the meeting.

The story seems to be developing shades of Schrodinger’s cat — but quantum physics aside, it’s not possible that the meeting didn’t take place while it did take place. Did our original tipster get the venue wrong?

Left right. We hear all is not going smoothly at the Left Right Think-Tank, with rumours circulating about concerns about a lack of talent within the fledgling organisation. Formed in 2008, the Melbourne-based Left Right bills itself as “Australia’s first independent, non-partisan think-tank of young minds” — all staff are aged 24 or under, and the website features a gallery of fresh-faced volunteers. Patrons include not-quite-so-fresh-faced Barrie Cassidy and Craig Reucassel.

A tipster claims internal candidates were overlooked for a recent appointment, with a manager overheard describing some existing staff as “mediocre”. Apparently some board members and non-head-office staff have concerns about staffing.

ABC pendulum. Crikey’s list of ex-ABC people who went on to stand as candidates for the ALP or the Coalition is too close to call — it currently stands at 15 who went to Labor and 14 to the Coalition (0 to the Greens). Have we missed anyone? Let us know.

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

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