From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

A taxing time for miners? This Tip came out of the mouth of an inebriated person of the legal vocation, so we’re not sure how correct it is, but apparently two Australian mining companies are going to be “got at” by the ATO over some “dodgy currency transactions”. We’ll keep you posted in the new year.

Aunty to take on The Block? The ABC has been under fire recently for outsourcing TV production to the private sector and centralising operations in Sydney and Melbourne. Crikey hears the national broadcaster is planning to buck this trend in 2013 by commissioning a new home renovation show that will air in a key prime time slot. The show would be made internally and filmed out of Adelaide — a handy rejoinder for ABC chief Mark Scott when he faces his next grilling at Senate estimates over the ABC’s lack of support for areas outside of Sydney and Melbourne.

Who is Terry O’Connor? Last week, Bernard Keane took the time to explain who Mr Terry O’Connor is. He recently wrote for The Australian on the AWU slush fund/Julia Gillard issue; described in the byline as “a former head of Western Australia’s Anti-Corruption Commission”. The Oz forgot to add that he was a former WA Liberal Party member who was appointed to the WA ACC by Richard Court’s government and is a long-time chairman of mining services company Ausdrill.

A reader pointed out that Ausdrill has had a few dramas of late, with managing director and founder Ron Sayers facing a tax fraud charge. The DPP commenced proceedings early this year to charge Sayers with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth, regarding alleged events of almost 10 years ago. A trial is expected to commence early next year and Sayers could face up to a decade in jail if convicted. Which is not to imply that O’Connor had anything to do with any alleged wrongdoing; we’re just filling out the byline for you.

Tony Abbott’s Christmas reading list. Tips aired concerns last week about the Opposition Leaders’ reading habits. We noted he had omitted to read the damning Federal Court judgment relating to Mal Brough and James Ashby; similarly BHP’s report on why it forewent a major mine expansion failed to attract the Abbott gaze. He has read Fifty Shades of Grey, so that’s a start.

However, Tips has had to ditch its theory that Abbott has written more books than he’s read, thanks to his pals at The Australian Financial Review. In a series of gushing interviews last week, The Fin uncovered that he had recently read Quadrant and Andrew Roberts’ A History of the English Speaking Peoples since 1990.

Keen to assist Abbott broaden his reading, Tips asked readers for contributions to a Crikey Christmas reading list for the Opposition Leader. Here tis; Merry Christmas Mr Abbott!

  • Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking
  • Charles Dickens, Bleak House
  • Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch
  • Roger Berkowitz, Truthtelling: Democracy in an Age Without Facts
  • The old UK boys comic Whizzer and Chips (“that’d bring a tear back to his eyes recalling the good ol’ days at school in the ’60s to which he wants us all to return. It’s also not too taxing so he can’t really get it wrong if asked questions about it later on,” writes our tipster)
  • Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
  • Mal Brough, It’s Time for a Single Vision

Who’s Who at the Nation Review. Readers have helped us put names to faces in this 1975 pic from the staff at the Nation Review.

We’d already identified Richard Walsh and Anna Stewart; one reader suggested it was Mungo MacCallum on the far left, while another tipster thought that man (is he clasping a cigar?) was “the great John Hepworth, the best of a good bunch”. A few different men in this pic were identified as MacCallum; can anyone solve the mystery? If you know any other faces, drop us a line.

And if you’ve got any interesting old pics from newsrooms of yore, please send them in … we’d love to see pics of veterans like Laurie Oakes and Michelle Grattan when they were cub reporters in the 1960s and 70s. You can spend your Xmas break going through old albums for us …

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form.