From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Westpac’s passage to India … There are claims Westpac’s decision to outsource business lending operations to India has led to delays and errors, resulting in some settlements being missed. A tipster with inside knowledge claims Indian graduates with three months of training are now handling business lending through new provider GENPAC (business lending services were outsourced as part of a move to shed 560 jobs from Westpac’s Australian operations). They reports:

“It takes at least two years to fully understand the role; GENPAC and Westpac expect the same level of knowledge in three months. Most are graduates from an Indian university and they breathe Indian life, they have no idea about what even an Australian mortgage and land title is about … what should take four hours to take would take over three weeks. Work has been returned because it was too hard for staff to document … The idea of cutting costs has become an oxymoron as expensive solicitors are called in and complete more complex documentation in lieu of experienced staff. Gail Kelly in her emails appears to be losing the will to be head of the bank.”

A spokesman for Westpac concedes there have been delays: “Due to higher than expected business volumes, we have experienced some delays following changes within our business lending business. We have taken immediate action to restore service levels to normal.” Some within the bank claim the delays are not due to performance or skills issues at GENPAC, and cast doubt on the report that delays of up to three weeks are being experienced by customers. Had any recent experiences with Westpac’s business lending services? Tell us what the service was like.

… and Facebook crackdown. We’ve also heard from a disgruntled Westpac customer who has been blocked from using the bank’s Facebook page. “My anecdotes of Westpac greed and incompetence obviously grew unbearable for them,” our banned source said. A quick look at the bank’s Facebook page shows plenty of other complaints from the public. One wonders where the bar is set for blocking?

Would you work for SHY? Does Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young run a good office? She advertised for two new staff last week — a media adviser and a campaigns and communications manager — and the politics buff who alerted us to the ad reckons that makes five new staff in the last year. But a spokeswoman for Senator Hanson-Young said that was incorrect, and there had been only one new hire in the last year, while two staff had left and were being replaced via the ad. That would seem to make three new staff over a year, not five.

Senator Hanson-Young’s media officer since April 2011 has been Paris Lord, a name which adds some much-needed glamour to the parliamentary press advisers’ list. Lord will be missed. There’s also been substantial turnover at the PM’s office of late. Got the inside word on what’s going on in either case? Drop us a line.

Campbell Newman: Mr Unpopularity? Queensland Premier Campbell Newman — aka Senor Newman after his recent comparison of his state’s apparently dire finances to Spain — certainly seems to be Crikey readers’ least favourite premier. We ran a couple of tips on Senor Newman yesterday, and we’re back for more today.

Firstly, we’ve been told that Newman “has ordered files be started on various outspoken local characters in the media/social media who have been shooting their mouths off”. Apparently writers whose work has “pushed a few buttons on George Street” are the subject of dossiers. Know more about the files — perhaps you think you’re the subject of one? Drop us a line, and feel free to use our guaranteed anonymous form.

Meanwhile, singer Katie Noonan has updated her Facebook trail on Newman’s poor behaviour at her gig on Wednesday night:

Ted Baillieu: Mr Popularity? Newman’s poor gig etiquette led to a Crikey shout-out for reports on how other politicians behave away from the cameras. And top marks go to the Victorian Premier, with a source passing on this most genteel tip:

“We recently stayed at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. Ted Baillieu, wife and child were also there. I can report he, and they, were unfailingly polite and pleasant the whole time we saw them, at breakfast on two mornings and walking around the hotel, in dealings with the concierge and the hotel desk staff. No signs of being anything other than a polite, quietly spoken regular guy.

People often say they’d like more positive stories in the media. Don’t say we don’t deliver.

Sheikh your groove thing. Crikey was yesterday pondering the future for high-profile ex-GetUp! head Simon Sheikh, who has left the organisation to go on a road trip with wife Anna Rose (and may perhaps end up seeking Labor preselection?). Crikey wondered if Sheikh, like Wayne Swan, would crank up The Boss on the car stereo. Apparently not, a tipster tells us; it will be Farnsy:

“I knew Simon Sheikh when he was a member of the UN Youth Association, and he used to moonlight as ‘DJ Siesta’ at our conferences and parties. I can confirm that he would often spin Hilltop Hoods, MIA and end the night with guaranteed crowd-pleaser You’re The Voice by John Farnham. I hope Anna brought earplugs!”

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

Peter Fray

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