Legal lady. Gina Rinehart doesn’t like journalists. She’s already chasing hacks at The West Australian to reveal their sources. Now we hear she’s taken exception to media coverage of the legal case involving her and three of her four children. At least one media outlet is under the gun, although it seems that legal action is not on the cards at present. Know more? Drop us a line here.

Buy my rival! Age subscribers in the Melbourne burb of Brunswick were shocked this morning to discover that their paper contained glossy inserts urging them to subscribe to bitter rival the Herald Sun. Newsagent stuff-up or something more sinister?

#AskTony. Tony Abbott’s short Q and A session on Twitter yesterday was so popular that its hash tag #AskTony trended nationally for a time. Unfortunately the Opposition Leader had to exercise his discretion and couldn’t address hard-hitting questions such as these:

Grilling the pollsters. A reader had a question about our recent Crikey clarifier on polls: “How do you know that the person calling you up isn’t a scammer?” Known in the industry as sugging (selling in the guise of research) or frugging (fund-raising in the guise of research), polling experts offered us these tips to make sure the questioner is legitimate:

  • All reputable survey companies will commence the interview by stating where they’re from, and you should confirm the name of the company before you start answering any questions.
  • If you’re uncertain, ask to speak to the supervisor and get their name and employee number, or ask for the contact number of the research organisation. You can then check the legitimacy of the organisation against the industry body’s’ official “Survey Line”.
  • Genuine researchers never try to sell you anything and will make that clear from the start.

Does Defence need a diet? There’s robust debate around whether the Defence department is cash-strapped or bloated — see the story on 127 bureaucrats attending an HR conference in Crikey today, and Tips yesterday. This army reservist thinks there’s money to burn:

“Having worked in state and federal public service and being a current army reservist, I can without a doubt say the army reserve has lots of fat to trim. Army Reserve Training days (ART days) are often wasted by poorly planned activities, and stores such as ammunition and ‘expense items’ are misused or simple thrown away to save on paperwork. At present the spending cuts from the Reserve side of the fence are coming from ART days as other spending (fuel ammunition, etc) has already been purchased and the cost of dishonouring supply contracts far outweighs the potential savings in the financial year.”

But another insider reckons it’s not all beer and skittles at Russell, and has defended the holding of a conference in Perth recently:

“It’s impossible to say Defence is cash-strapped or not, because it entirely depends on where. It’s very localised — you might not be able to go to a conference because of money, but someone in the same branch but different project around the corner might have no trouble. I had to get other areas of Defence to pay for my travel on a number of occasions because they had money, but we did not. Goodness knows where the budgets come from and who decides them. As for the conference being in Perth — well there is a bit going on over there with Defence, and remember the states would get pretty stroppy if everything was held in Canberra to save on a few air fares.”

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

Peter Fray

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