From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

“Don’t fire me, Kim”. Journalists at The Australian in Canberra’s Press Gallery have been asked to pen a personal screed about why they should remain with the paper. In an extraordinary intervention by senior News Limited management, gallery staff were asked yesterday to write to their bosses yesterday with the implication that the least impressive essayists would be asked to take a redundancy. Several News gallery sources have confirmed that they are sharpening their keyboards for what some consider the most important story they’ll ever file. The Oz is looking for two more redundancy candidates from the 10-or-so-strong Press Gallery after chief political correspondent Matt Franklin upped sticks last week. The loss-making paper — part of Rupert Murdoch’s struggling global publishing arm — is looking for at least 20 redundos in total to ease the strain on its balance sheet.

Misha makes tracks? Is Misha Schubert, The Sunday Age’s political editor, joining the flight from Fairfax? She hasn’t gotten back to us, but a tweet from Labor MP Stephen Jones suggests she is.

Greens blue. We hear that the tussle within the Queensland Greens for the winnable top spot on the Senate ticket for the federal election is “extremely polite”. Three are standing for preselection, two — Libby Connors and Jim McDonald — with PhDs. The third nominee is Adam Stone. Perhaps he should get a PhD too. But while that Senate race is chivalrous, the same can apparently not be said for the contest for the party’s annual ballot for positions on the state executive. We hear there have been many nominees and some dirty tricks may be at play, with rumours circulating about the mental suitability of one of the candidates. As our northern mole says, “the Greens in Queensland are providing a strange example of where to focus their energies”.

The Packer Xmas hamper. Yesterday, Crikey threw down the gauntlet to Australia’s stingy bosses after calling for tips of gifts you’ve received from the boss. At that point we’d only heard of terrible gifts, but all that’s changed this morning, with several tips on the legendary Kerry Packer Christmas hampers.

The late Kerry Packer used to hand out quite extravagant Christmas hampers usually consisting of a turkey, a leg ham and other beaut goodies. The hampers, which went to all staff around the country, were worth a substantial amount of money. The staff idolised him for his thoughtfulness. He paid staff a paltry wage, however, up to $10,000 a year less for an editor than Channel Seven or Ten for example, but the hamper which was maybe around $300 more than made up for it. The staff adored him.

In the old days of the Sydney newspaper business, employees of the Packers at least had Christmas to look forward to: the Packer Christmas hamper was legendary. Fairfax workers usually got a cash bonus at the end of the year. But when asked about the size of their own Christmas bonus, Murdoch’s troops would sigh and reply: “Oh, twice as much as last year”. Because twice nothing is still nothing.

We’ve also heard heartening stories of staff receiving bunches of flowers and even a coffee machine to take home and keep.

But then there was this:

I spent time back in the ’90s working for Bartters Chicken at their hatchery in Griffith. Six days on, one day off, incredibly hard yakka and a “country wage”. What were we given for Christmas? A pack of frozen KFC chicken fillets past their use-by-date and therefore unsaleable. Tasted all right though!

And we challenge anyone to come up with a worse gift from the boss than that.

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