From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Tatt’s a winner. Tips has developed an unseemly interest in the tattoos of Australia’s political and business elites. We issued a shout-out last week for reader submissions to our Crikey list, and we struck gold in response:

“Liberal MP for Jandakot (in WA) Joe Francis MLA is well known for his many tattoos (which he proudly displays to the media and to parliamentary staff) — he has a huge Asian-inspired dragon tattoo on one sleeve and one on his chest (over his heart) of his dog who died. The tattoo of his dog (Sasha) is made of tattoo ink mixed with the Sasha’s ashes.”

We had quite the chat with Francis, who confirmed the tip. He has the paw prints of his late dog Sasha over his heart, with the ink indeed made out of the dog’s ashes. He has a tiger on his left arm and a dragon on his right, courtesy of his friends who are tattooists. “That’s pretty impressive, you find out everything, don’t you,” Francis said to Tips of the rumour about his body art. He said his tattoos were “often a talking point, especially in the conservative Liberal Party of WA”. Francis was delighted to be informed by Tips that he was in excellent company — Winston Churchill had a tattoo of an anchor on his upper arm. “You’ve just made my day,” Francis replied.

Going back a little further in time, noted botanist Sir Joseph Banks was got himself inked in Tahiti. Our tipster on matters historical claimed it was “a butterfly tattooed on his bum”, although we prefer the more historically appropriate “rear end”. Is this tip correct, history buffs? Tips did history at university, but outrageously this important matter wasn’t broached in lectures.

We also learned from a reader that George Schultz, former United States secretary of  state, apparently had a tiger tattooed on his butt cheek. But nothing beats this presidential candidate, who really should keep his tattooing in Czech.

You’re sacked, says the “People and Culture adviser”. Crikey noted the latest cuts to News Limited on Friday — around 60 subs at nine regional newspapers are to get the chop, with the work outsourced to AAP subsidiary Pagemasters (you can read an email to staff from News Ltd’s Campbell Reid here). We heard this tip from a mole at News Ltd’s Gold Coast Bulletin:

“NewsCentral Gold Coast sub hub staff were asked to join a meeting of Gold Coast Bulletin staff on Thursday. GCB editor Peter Gleeson and NewsCentral production editor Damien Tomlinson explained that GCB subbing was being outsourced to Pagemasters. It was mentioned — AS AN ASIDE — that NewsCentral Gold Coast was no more, and NewsCentral staff sat stunned that news of their job losses was considered secondary to a mere change in subbing arrangements for GCB. A meeting followed for NewsCentralstaff. It was a display of unprofessional and insensitive behaviour by management. A “People and Culture adviser” was present. On top of this, NewsCentral Gold Coast staff had been assured repeatedly by managing editor Gareth Hose that their sub hub was safe. GCB staff visited NewsCentral staff afterwards to say how disgusted they were with how the news was handled.”

Scrooge strikes in the city. Tips has been assiduously gathering intelligence on the best and the worst of office Christmas parties and gifts. This is our favourite for lamest party:

“I have heard one particular agency is have their Christmas party in the office and playing SingStar. Sad.”

However, upon canvassing this event with colleagues in the Crikey bunker, the feeling seems to be that it sounds like an awesome party; threats were made to perform favourite ditties on the spot. Islands in the Stream, anyone?

We enjoyed this old timer’s tip from the days of yore:

“As an old journo of around 70 years, I’ve never forgotten the whispered comment of a gnarled old cable sub on a New Zealand newspaper, who muttered to me during the editor’s fulsome Christmas speech to the editorial staff: ‘You know the three most useless things in the world? A man’s nipples, the Pope’s balls, and a vote of thanks to the staff.'” Quite.

If you’ve got a tale of an excellent or terrible staff Xmas party, please invite Tips (virtually) and pass on the gossip.

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

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey