From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Moving on. A former AFP officer who was involved in the Mohamed Haneef case has moved on from his job heading up the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation in apparently troubled circumstances.

Luke Morrish, the AFP’s former acting manager for domestic counter-terrorism, was in the news in 2007 because he had forwarded an email from the AFP — which referred to a contingency plan to keep the Indian doctor (and then terrorism suspect) Haneef in custody should a magistrate seek to free him — to the staff of then Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.

Morrish later became the Government Business Manager for the federal intervention in the Arnhem land indigenous community of Maningrida, then the chief executive of the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation (which covers the same region). A spokesman for the BAC confirmed a Crikey tip that Morrish had left.

The spokesman said there had been a “mutual parting of the ways” between the BAC board and Morrish early last week. The spokesman could not comment on the reasons for Morrish’s departure. It is understood there are legal issues surrounding the decision. The board has appointed Peter Lawler as acting CEO until a replacement is found.

Crikey would like to ask Morrish about his departure, but has been unable to make contact. He is welcome to contact us.

Brown for NRL top post? We’re hearing the name Christopher Brown in relation to the vacant post leading rugby league’s governing body. Brown, a former tourism lobbyist, was recently commissioned by NRL chair John Grant to conduct a review of the organisation in the wake of David Gallop’s departure. We’re told he’s spent recent months interviewing sponsors, media, politicians and other stakeholders on everything that is wrong with the body.

“Word is that some of those interviewed think Brown could be the man for the job,” says our insider. “He knows football, business, sponsors, politics and media.”

Crikey spoke with Brown this morning, who told us he was busy conducting the review and hadn’t heard anything of being tapped to run the whole show.

“I’m busy working for them, not running them,” he said. “Like all good consultants, I want to be seen not heard.”

Public service cuts #1: WA and NT. A Crikey analysis which ran yesterday found 38,000 public service jobs have been cut from the state and federal levels over the past few years, with another 24,000 positions on the line (maybe more).

Crikey found the cuts were hitting hardest in New South Wales and Queensland, with South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania (and the federal government) also winding back the bureaucracy. It seemed Western Australia and the Northern Territory were bucking that trend, but there’s a message from our readers: watch this space.

This is from an insider in WA:

WA is going to the election in February 2013 so Barnett is keeping things calm till then. Yes there is a freeze on public service FTE (a de facto cut in a booming state) and they have already amended the Public Service Act to make it easier to cut public servants post election. In social areas they have “buttered-up / primed” the non-government community sector to be part of the next great wave of outsourcing government services (post election) as the NGO sector “is closer to the community”. Health services are being privatised at the new Midland health campus and Fiona Stanley hospital, but because they are new hospitals people don’t seem to attach the privatisation tag to it. Watch the WA space post Feb 2013.

And a source from the NT claims that, with the Territory election set for August 25, the Country Liberal Party plans to cut public service jobs (especially those on higher incomes) if it wins. Certainly Labor has been claiming that’s the CLP’s plan, and the NT News is on to the story.

Public service cuts #2: not so gold? Crikey’s analysis found 7500 public service jobs have been cut in Queensland in the last two years, with Premier Campbell Newman recently saying the state is employing 20,000 more public servants than it can afford. Queensland has also cuts its events budget. A Crikey tipster would like to know how the state is going to successfully stage the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

“Who is going to run such complicated events now that those experts are no longer. Where have they gone? Can they be recalled in time?” our contact asks.

Public service cuts #3: over to you. We’ve received interesting comments from our readers about whether these kinds of cuts actually save governments money in the long run, or whether the state ends up hiring expensive contractors or temp agencies to pick up the slack (apparently quite often it’s the redundant public servants who come back). Know more? Let us know (and feel free to use our guaranteed anonymous form).

We’ve also heard that local governments have been cutting jobs (we’re looking into that). Someone told us they waited one hour and forty seven minutes at Service SA recently because there were so few staff — any other stories of long waits for government services? And we’re investigating whether these public service cutbacks have affected grad programs — please pass on your insider accounts.

First Dog vs fatty food. The weight of the food industry is being thrown against our own First Dog on the Moon, after Dog ran a cartoon on Monday highlighting the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s work on the issue of truth in food labelling. The cartoon was circulated by email among food industry heavyweights with this comment:

“An example of the communication that some on the other side of the fence are engaging in …”

The email, seen by Crikey, includes reps from Sugar Australia, Kraft, Arnotts, Fonterra, Unilever, Goodman Fielder (which makes Meadow Lea and Mighty Soft) etc.

Crikey can report that Dog appears chuffed to have been described as being indicative of “the other side of the fence”, although Dog notes that the claim of the existence of “fat, crisp, delicious, salty, creamy, custard-filled LIES!” in the debate may not be the way all anti-fatty-food activists phrase their case.

Now that we know the cartoon has alarmed some in the food industry, we’ll just run the top bit of it again …

No security concerns at Australia House. Yesterday we reported the concerns of one relative of a London embassy staffer worried security funding of Australia House had been cut. We’re assured today that’s not true. A spokesperson tells us: “There have been no cutbacks in security guards and no local overspends. In fact security guards will be supplemented during the Olympics.” We hope the relative can rest easy.

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

Peter Fray

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