From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Orchestra Victoria managing director quits. It’s been a tough few years for Orchestra Victoria, which has contracts with the Australian Ballet, Opera Australia, Victorian Opera and Jeannie Pratt’s The Production Company. Managing director Rob Robertson left at the end of last year — the same time a handful of administration staff were made redundant due to budgetary issues. There have been long-running battles over money between musicians and management. Acting board chair Tony Osmond tells Crikey that Robertson retired, and that the redundancies haven’t affected the orchestra, which is working hard in anticipation of this year’s epic Ring Cycle program with Opera Australia as well as its standard commitments.

BIFF’s new artistic director. Jennie Hughes, a long-time TV and film finance manager, will be the new artistic director of the Brisbane International Film Festival. She replaces Richard Moore, the controversial former director of the Melbourne International Film Festival, whose two-year BIFF contract was not renewed. Hughes is a former CEO of the Australian Film Institute and was executive producer on films including Gettin’ Square, Dirty Deeds and You and Your Stupid Mate. Her appointment is expected to be announced publicly next week.

Aprons all around … Tips is interested in the influence of religion, and asked for your tales of faith-based discrimination. This one sounds like a conspiracy theory to us, and it’s not technically a religion, but it piqued our curiosity. A tipster reckons the Freemasons’ influence reaches far and wide …

“It is definitely very helpful  for your career if you are a Freemason and you are employed by the likes of VicPol, CFA or the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Very strong Masonic theme and it also explains the sometimes mystifying promotions (or lack thereof) that occur in these organisations. In the CFA, one director is constantly interfering in recruitment processes when one of his ‘brothers’ misses out.”

We rather thought the Freemasons were on the wane; are we wrong? Tell us the inside story … and you can stay anonymous.

… as this Catholic school closes its doors to atheists. 

“We applied for our daughter to go to Chanel College in Gladstone, Queensland, which receives bucket loads of public funding.  The answer: No, our family was ‘not spiritual enough’. Probably because I’m a lapsed Catholic and now an atheist. Mind you, I was sort of glad as I still have nightmares from the treatment I got at a Catholic boys school.”

Nicknames. The Crikey office became embroiled in a late-afternoon discussion this week about whether Tony Abbott is known by the nickname “Abbo” (apparently he was in his youth, but Tips thinks the moniker died in the 1970s). This got us thinking about the nicknames of the nation’s political and business elites. Do you know of one? Perhaps you were childhood pals with “Krusher” Ken Henry, or played social mixed netball with “the Captain” Joe Hockey. Keep Crikey readers informed — the more embarrassing or revealing the handle, the better.

The internet tells us federal Labor MP Laurie Ferguson is known as “The Log”, while Kevin Rudd is “Dr Death” in some circles. It’s not hard to work out who Plibbers, Albo and Emmo are if you know your Labor frontbench. But the internet is not so illuminating on Coalition nicknames … we need readers’ help on this one.

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

Peter Fray

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