From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Big Brother Newman. We reported last week that Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is keeping “dirt files” on outspoken critics of his regime — that criticism being increasingly vocal due to Newman’s sweeping cuts to spending. Now we’ve heard his government sent out staff to photograph workers protesting outside his office.

About 40 people participated in the United Voice union’s protest outside Brisbane’s Executive Building on Friday to protest against a directive overriding EBAs for cleaners and teachers’ aides. A union official told Crikey she received an anonymous call from inside the building warning that a plain-clothed policeman was being sent to take photographs. The official watched the man take the photographs then head back inside the building. The official said the protest was not violent or rowdy, and there was no damage — protesters did later go inside the building, asked to meet Newman, were refused, then left.

A United Voice spokesperson said it was the first time the union been photographed in this way by the government:

“Instead of coming down to face the workers [Newman] representatives, he sent down a plain-clothed security official to secretly film our protest. It’s extremely sneaky and clearly a throwback to the bad old days of Joh. We find this sort of behaviour completely unacceptable; the public should be free to tell the government how they feel without being secretly filmed.”

Crikey is aware that governments do sometimes send out staff (sometimes media officers, sometimes security) to photograph or video protests, including peaceful protests. Is this standard practice, is it appropriate, and what is the evidence used for? Insiders can let us know via email, and you can keep it anonymous. Those of us who may have dossiers on us would like to know more.

Are you being served? We hear the Victorian government had a few problems with its server last week, leaving some public servants without email. There is a rumour circulating that most departments were without email for up to three days, and some government websites were down — e.g. the VCGLR —  but a government mole called by Crikey doubted the problem was that widespread. We’ve asked the premier’s office about what happened in IT-land and will report back. But you can let us know too. If you have email access …

The long arm of the law. Which member of a winemaking family has been arrested two weeks in a row?

ADF protest. A caller to 3AW says retired defence force personnel, who are waging a long-running battle on retirement payments, are taking their campaign to the laws of Parliament House. The issue has been a slow-burner and is one of the hot topics in Crikey and OurSay’s online poll to source the best questions to ask our lower house independents. There are at least three questions on the subject and they’ve garnered more than 300 votes between them. Same-sex marriage leads the OurSay poll, while a question on nuclear power is also popular.

The top questions from the OurSay exercise will be put to the lower house indepedents on September 12 by Crikey’s very own Bernard Keane — so jump on the site and pose your best questions.

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