From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

SackWatch: News. Unlike Fairfax, News Limited never went public with how many jobs it’s cutting in the current wave of media downsizing — but there’s no doubt the process has started. This from an insider:

News Limited is being trickier with their redundancies than Fairfax, by quietly punting staff in dribs and drabs and not making any formal announcements. Dozens have gone around the country in the past week alone. It is simply Chinese whispers keeping the newsrooms informed. Many middle managers are only finding out they have lost staff when those given the punt approach them with letters in hand. No one seems to know an exact figure on how many will go, but more come out every day.

Our News mole reports that some staff at The Daily Telegraph are particularly upset that a long-serving photographic editor, who was away from work caring for his seriously ill mother, was telephoned and told not to come back to work. “The rumour mill also has it that he was also told his mobile phone was “company property” and he needed to post it back to Holt Street as soon as possible,” the mole said. “There are now plenty of other staff nervously looking over their shoulders.” We’ve put this report to The Daily Telegraph but they haven’t got back to us. Know more about the sackings at News or Fairfax? Drop us a line.

Keneally facing rank-and-file revolt in Botany mayor bid. Kristina Keneally’s husband Ben could face a ballot in his tilt — exclusively revealed by Crikey last week — to become the next mayor of Botany NSW.

Cr Stan Kondilios, a successful local beak, said he “would welcome a rank-and-file preselection process, once the incumbent mayor, Ron Hoenig gives an indication concerning his own mayoral nomination.” He went on to emphasise “[the] corporate knowledge and experience contained within the current cohort of councillors at Botany cannot be understated. These are people who are very close to the party membership and the community, and should equally not be ruled out as candidates for mayor.” Game on, as they say.

Indigenous employment hit hard? As the newish Queensland government takes the knife to its public service, we’re hearing reports that indigenous staff have been hit particularly hard. A George Street observer claims that upwards of 100 indigenous employment and training officers have lost their jobs, and of these, 60 were indigenous themselves.

Our source, who suggested that indigenous staff were generally more likely to be employed in casual or contract positions (which have been targeted by the Newman cuts), is also concerned that a significant number of indigenous staff are to be laid off from the transport and roads departments.

“Why is the Queensland government acting in such a manner?” our source asked. “How many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will find themselves unemployed as a result of these measures?”

UPDATED. Crikey contacted a spokeswoman for Queensland education and training minister John-Paul Langbroek, who raised some doubts about these figures. The spokeswoman pointed to the axing of 144 jobs at the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program, announced last week, and said that figure included 52 indigenous employment and training officers. These officers had been offered voluntary redundancies or redeployment within the department, the spokeswoman said.

ABC woes. We’re hearing whispers that the ABC’s Comcare bill has increased significantly, with one insider claiming it’s up from $4 million last year to $9 million. We hear that some of the increase may be due to mental health issues. Know more? Use our guaranteed anonymous form.

Deterred by detergent. A caller to 3AW reported that attendees at a women’s AFL lunch last Friday were presented with gift bags containing packets of detergent. She didn’t sound too impressed. Perhaps these women were actually interested in the game — not washing up after the sausage rolls at half-time.

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