Tuggeranong decides. Counting from Saturday’s ACT election should be finalised tomorrow and it seems Canberrans just can’t make up their minds. With more than 227,000 votes counted so far, Labor is ahead by a wafer-thin 55 votes. The most likely scenario is eight Labor MLAs, eight Liberals, and one Green. Smart money is still on a Labor-Green government, but the chance of the Libs taking office for the first time in 11 years has increased from “very low” to “just a chance”.

The sole Green MLA is likely to be Shane Rattenbury, while Greens leader Meredith Hunter looks like she’s lost her seat. Hunter is seen as being very pro-ALP (sources say she could quite easily be a Labor MLA, and she had a good relationship with Labor chief minister Katy Gallagher); Rattenbury less so.

Insiders say there’s a chance Rattenbury (who was Speaker in the outgoing Labor-Green ACT goverment) could side with the Liberals — especially if they align with what the Greens want on light rail, and if he’s offered a ministry, as has happened in Tasmania. However, insiders say Rattenbury and Liberal leader Zed Seselja don’t have a great relationship.

Hunter is a “social Green” (i.e. more interested in social issues) while Rattenbury is a “green Green” (an environmentalist foremost), so the policy attention is likely to be more focused on environmental issues as the three parties wheel and deal over government next week .The Liberals are saying behind the scenes that they are open to light rail for Canberra, but point out the cost is high. One Liberal source told Crikey the issue of light rail was “not going to be a sticking point” between the Libs and the Greens.

The poll results are very bad news for the Greens, likely to plummet from four seats to one with almost a 5% swing against them (they’ve lost about a third of their vote compared with 2008).

News Limited printing cuts? We’re hearing News Limited is set to announce a redundancy plan for more than 20 employees and managers at its Chullora printing press, with savings expected to be around $2 million a year. Staff will be told in the next two to three weeks, according to our source, with big investments in print machines allowing for more savings.

A spokesperson for News declined to confirm any numbers this morning, telling Crikey discussions were ongoing with Chullora and that “no decisions have been made yet”.

Gome on the move. Amanda Gome — the former CEO of Private Media, which publishes Crikey and other websites — is joining Fairfax as publisher of BRW, Smart Investor and Asset Magazine. Gome kept schtum when contacted yesterday but eventually we were forwarded a press release confirming the move.

The move suggests the publication, which has been thinner than post-bypass James Packer over recent weeks, will be increasingly shifting its focus online. One option being discussed at senior levels is moving the weekly version of the mag online while keeping the popular monthly editions, such as The Rich List, in hard copy format.

D-G email hacked. Who’s playing funny buggers inside the NSW Department of Education and Communities? That’s the question being asked by everyone from Education Minister Adrian Piccoli down after an email was sent out to all DEC staff from Director-General Michele Bruniges urging students and family members to protest funding cuts by the O’Farrell government.

The email turned out to be the work of a hacker, as revealed in parliament yesterday by Piccoli, who said he would use the “full force of the law” to find the culprit. Here is the fake fiery missive for those interested:

Dear Staff

By now you have been informed of some of the challenges public education now faces resulting from the cuts to the education budget proposed by the NSW Government.

The local management vision for schools also proposed by the NSW Government, while delivering some of the cost savings projected by this Government, will place further stress on teaching staff and the standard of education in NSW, particularly if the trials from other countries is considered.

It is an injustice that pledges made by the O’Farrell at the last election regarding education in NSW have not been kept and that infrastructure in NSW is being given a higher priority than public education.

The protests sent to my office are noted but should be directed to the ministers responsible as this office has not been involved in the construction of these visions and is only the conduit for delivery. Staff may not formally contact the media or the Minister’s office directly but students and family members are free to exercise their rights of free speech should they choose to do so.

It seems clear that with the current dismantling of TAFE NSW by the O’Farrell Government, schools will be the next to be downgraded to allow for lesser qualified facilitators to replace the currently qualified teachers to deliver the educational content to our children.

I can only hope that with enough formal protesting to the Ministers office, sensibility will prevail and that public education is not the victim of this short sighted NSW Government vision.

One tipster informed Crikey that before a retraction could be issued, some fellow staff members sent back responses congratulating Bruniges for speaking out. Oops.

Bullying case at AFTRS. Following up from yesterday’s tip regarding the $1 million workplace bullying case at  film and television school AFTRS. Crikey reported former head of corporate services Reza Bilimoria and former head of radio Steve Ahern were being called as witnesses after initially siding with claimant Katherine Blashki at the time of her resignation. We now understand Bilimoria has not yet been asked to appear as a witness, while neither of the pair left for reasons related to Blashki.

Meanwhile, bullying cases aside, one observer tells Crikey that the school has been losing relevance in the film industry, with students now looking elsewhere for a more rigorous education in showbiz. Despite generous federal funding and flashy PR the school has become a shadow of its former self, our tipster writes, canning two and three year undergraduate and postgrad degrees in favour of one year full fee paying courses:

“It is now vastly inferior to the elite films schools of UK/Europe and the USA, models on which it was originally based. There should be a broad and public review of its operations. The Arts Minister has been aware of this disquiet for many years but done nothing.” Do you know more about the goings on at AFTRS? Feel free to get in touch.

Peter Fray

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