From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Keeping the bastards honest? Crikey delved into the mad world of the ailing Australian Democrats a few months ago. While there appear to be few Democrats left, what remains has split into two factions (the situation is reminiscent of the recent drama when PNG had two governments). The carcass of the party is supposed to be deciding on who should be the national president. A baffled mole brings us the latest instalment in the sad decline of a political party: “Members have received (at least) two different sets of ballot papers with varying closing dates and candidates, and various emails and letters from people claiming to represent the party, and it has been absolutely impossible to tell who is right.”

Can you shed light on the latest drama? Be sure to tell us here at Tips — and you can stay anonymous.

Which bank gives terrible Xmas presents? Check out the lovely gift that the Commonwealth Bank’s CEO has given to all staff:

One recipient was not too taken with their pressie. “Truly — I would have preferred to see the value of this gift given to charity rather than this crime against salad serving implements. The 70’s finished in 1980 for a reason!”

Another tipster pounced on our suggestion that Australia Post’s gift to staff in past years — a thermos one year, the matching flasks the next — might fetch a pretty penny in retro second hand shops. “Speaking of retro kitsch, how much do you think I’d get for a an ashtray with the good old Telecom logo on it?” Those were the days.

Not all will travel for Fox Sports. A moving end to 2012 for Fox Sports, which shifts from Pyrmont to a new $20 million HQ at Gore Hill on the old ABC TV site on Sydney’s lower north shore in a couple of weeks. The change will see the 100% News Limited-owned pay TV sports giant and its newish CEO, Patrick Delaney, take up residence near the Nine Network and SBS. At Pyrmont, Fox Sports was close to Ten and Seven. Foxtel, 50% owned by News and Fox Sports’ only client, resides at North Ryde. Even in the current tough media employment climate, Fox Sports looks like losing some staff who live on the south side of Sydney Harbour, just as Foxtel shed 30% of its staff when it moved to North Ryde several years ago.

PMO love-in. Tips mused yesterday on the departure of the Prime Minister’s media stalwart Sean Kelly, and asked if there had been a high turnover of media staff in the PMO since Scottish firebrand John McTernan took over as comms director. These musings prompted swift responses from both men, who assured Tips of their high mutual regard. Kelly told us this: “John was a pleasure to work with — that great combination of a good bloke and a good operator — I’m sure we’ll work together again in the future.” He added he was going to take a “very long holiday”. Deserved, too.

McTernan had this to say: “I have never worked with a better press sec than Sean in any country, and have never learned so much from a colleague. It’s often said, but rarely true, that someone who is leaving is irreplaceable. But this time it is absolutely true.” As to the staff turnover question, Kelly said there were PMO media staff who had been there since before McTernan started.

The times are certainly a’changing for the nation’s key political spinners. Kelly is going, Christine Milne’s long-term media man Tim Hollo is going … but it seems Tony Abbott is retaining his media staff. That’s James Boyce in the lift with Abbott on page seven of The Australian Financial Review today. If you know of any more tip-worthy staff departures, please drop us a line. Wonder what it’s like being Troy Buswell’s press sec? Don’t sue us, Troy!

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