From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

SackWatch: State Trustees. A report that Victoria’s State Trustees is to axe up to 70 staff is sparking concerns about the welfare of some of the state’s most disadvantaged people. The Trustees is a statutory authority that manages the personal financial and legal matters of almost 9000 people who are unable to do so themselves due to disability, illness, injury, or other reasons.

Crikey has heard that Trustee staff were told in a presentation last month that 40 to 70 positions would be cut this financial year. “Staff morale is at rock bottom and looking to slide further, if that is possible,” an insider says.

A Trustees spokeswoman told Crikey that “there is a transformation program going on at the moment” and staff numbers were being looked at. In a later emailed statement, she said the “business transformation program” entailed “refining service and process models across major business lines, and upgrading technology and business reporting platforms”.

“Any potential reduction in employee numbers will, where possible, be managed through natural attrition,” the statement said. It did not address Crikey’s question of whether up to 70 staff would be cut.

Colleen Hartland, a Greens state upper house MP, said such a staff cut would be disastrous for Trustees’ clients.

“These are incredibly vulnerable people … they can’t manage their funds and have nowhere else to go,” Hartland told Crikey.

The Trustees was the subject of a critical Auditor-General’s report in February, which found the organisation was only visiting 5% of ongoing clients a year (after the initial mandatory visit), case managers were dealing with up to 400 clients each, and record-keeping was poor.

Not so super. Which GP Super Clinic is rumoured to be running low on funds and faces a government bailout — or closure? We hear all is not well on the clinic’s board, and some board members may be leaving soon. Know more? Let us know.

Brumby’s trouble rolls on. There are reports on social media that Brumby’s managing director Deane Priest has resigned. Priest caused a furore when he wrote in a letter to franchisees that they should jack up their prices and “let the carbon tax take the blame”. The consumer watchdog is investigating.

The rumour of Priest’s departure may be incorrect — Crikey rang Brumby’s media contact number to inquire, and listened to a lengthy, recorded message apologising for the letter as an “unsavoury outcome” (pun intended?). No one answered our call.

Even if this rumour is untrue, Deane Priest has still had a bad week. For example, The Australian thinks he’s a woman.

Not so firm? Popular legal insider blog Firmspy appears to have died a painful and protracted death. The site hasn’t been updated for almost a month; we’ve heard it’s crippled by the weight of cyber attacks and litigation brought by corporate law firms who took objection to their dirty laundry being aired anonymously.

ABC is Left — by a nose. After a frenzied fortnight of suggestions from Crikey readers, we’ve delivering the verdict on whether the ABC leans to the Left or the Right — as measured by journos’ subsequent political careers.

Crikey has tallied up how many ABC people went on to stand as candidates for the ALP and the Coalition, and it’s Labor by a whisker. From the ABC bunker, 15 went on to stand as Labor candidates (including the likes of Bob Carr, Maxine McKew and Alan Carpenter), while 14 stood as Coalition candidates (think Pru Goward, Gary Hardgrave and Rob Messenger). None went to the Greens.

The list has lengthened due to excellent suggestions from Crikey readers — some even emailed in nominating themselves. Have we missed anyone? Tell us and we’ll refresh our verdict. And let us know if there are more lists you’d like to see Crikey compile.

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

Peter Fray

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