From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Husic has friends in Labor places. Chifley MP Ed Husic has gained the strong reindorsement of the NSW ALP’s Sussex Street machine and will almost certainly “go around again” in federal Parliament. The keen Twitter user was parachuted into the seat in 2010 following the resignation of his long-serving former boss Roger Price. But Husic’s performance in Parliament and on the hustings has impressed party powerbrokers.

“Taking on Ed is now like taking on Sussex Street and no-one ever wins that battle,” a senior NSW Right source explained. Husic will face a rank and file pre-selection in coming months but is expected to win in a canter.

‘Mosques are different though’. A mosque should not be built in northern Canberra because dead bodies may be stored there, it would enable sharia laws allowing forced marriages, child brides and polygamy, and “mosques often result in hostility to non-Muslims in surrounding area”. That’s what a secretive group opposed to the mosque’s construction is telling people to say. The Concerned Citizens of Canberra held a closed meeting in the suburb of Gungahlin on Sunday (time and location only released to those who registered). The Canberra Times tried to attend but was asked to leave.

Crikey asked if anyone would like to go and tell us what happened — and they did. An attendee sent us this 10-page document put out by the group, which contains seven sample letters for attendees to send to the ACT planning authority to object to the mosque. We’ve tried to authenticate the document but the Concerned Citizens haven’t answered our emails. In the meantime, we’ll let the document speak for itself. Here are some excerpts:

I/we are not against religious organisations and believe they should be free to do what they want within the law.  Mosques are different though.

They seem to cause trouble for non-Muslims in many places so there is something wrong with the beliefs and attitudes that cause them to be hostile.

A mosque is not like a church or a temple because Islam is as much a political system as a religion and therefore seeks to dominate the area in which it is placed.

Mosques often result in hostility to non-Muslims in surrounding area.  Friends have told me of instances of being harassed just because they were near a mosque.

This is not to deny freedom of religion.  There is something different about mosques and the ACT Government needs to acknowledge that.

By their own words, we can thus judge the functions of a mosque.  Sharia marriage (forced marriages, child brides, polygamy, etc) and divorce laws do not comply with Australian law.

The plan for the mosque includes a large chiller room and mentions “deceased wash + office”.  If the chiller is for the storage of deceased persons then the DA is clearly in breach of its lease conditions.

The letter warns people who attend mosques are “recommended  to study violence-positive material”. The letter’s recipients are instructed how to lodge their objections to the mosque at the ACT Planning and Land Authority, and repeatedly told how to attempt to keep their name secret. The ACT government is to refer an earlier flyer by the Concerned Citizens to the Human Rights Commission.

The latest document from the Concerned Citizens says planning approval should be halted and a full assessment take place, concluding: “We residents of Gungahlin deserve nothing less.” Crikey agrees. The residents of Gungahlin deserve much, much better than this bigoted, anti-Muslim xenophobia.

SackWatch: Queensland public transport. Some Queenslanders might soon find it hard to get around, with reports of looming cuts to jobs and bus runs at TransLink, the statutory authority that provides public transport in South-East Queensland. An insider says TransLink staff were summoned to a meeting this week where they were told 20% of staff had to go. “No details, what, where, when and how,” our source said.

Crikey called around and heard reports that TransLink plans to cut 100 bus runs to save money, with the axe likely to fall on lower socio-economic communities that are small in size and/or in regional areas. Apparently TransLink says there’s not the patronage to maintain the runs, but insiders say the cuts will make life tough for people on the margins.

TransLink gave few details to Crikey; a spokesman says: “(g)iven the difficult financial situation faced by the Queensland government, all public sector agencies including TransLink are looking at areas to make savings …  TransLink has not made a final decision on changes to staff numbers”. The spokesman said staff would be the first to know, and promised the changes “won’t impact front-line services”. The Bus Industry Drivers’ Committee told Crikey that TransLink’s staff had swelled from 45 to 490, and the committee supported cuts to the bureaucracy, provided the money saved go towards services and driver safety training. Which doesn’t seem to be the way this story is heading.

SackWatch: Queensland again. With waves of public service sackings rolling in at the state and federal level — watch this space — here’s a story of how some Queensland bureaucrats are being shown the door. Staff at the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services have been told that all positions are up for review and the head count must shrink. They have been given one chance to take redundancy, or re-apply for their job — but position descriptions have been redefined. An insider reports that “staff who have held higher duties positions and whose contracts recently ended will not be able to apply for any positions … outside their work area”.

Staff who don’t get appointed to their old/new jobs will be offered redeployment, and if they refuse they will have to resign — no redundancies. “It’s a creative way of firing people,” our insider said. “It will be interesting to see how many staff elect to just take the payout, considering the risks involved with sticking around.” Crikey is looking into job cuts in the state and federal public service. Got a tip or an insider’s account? Let us know.

Mixer mix-up. A group buying company will have to refund more than 800 customers who bought a discounted mixer through its website, after doubts were raised about the product’s authenticity. The story stems from a tip to Crikey; the business buffs over at SmartCompany got to the bottom of it for us.

More on APN. We’ve been running reports of staff departures and debates within APN Educational Media about its changing editorial direction. Now we hear that several key executives at APN flagships are “looking to jump ship with freshly polished CVs”. Insiders cite falling advertising, low morale, and senior staff who are tired of being called “old school” and “embedded in the past” by bosses who — they believe — have few fresh ideas of their own. Crikey has previously reported the departure of four senior staff from APN’s educational media unit.

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

Peter Fray

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