From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Casualties of welfare reform. We’ve heard this from the coal face of recent welfare reform (some single parents have been pushed from parenting payments onto the dole):

“I had a friend crying on the phone to me last Saturday night saying that she had just been rejected from a brothel because she is ‘too old!’ (she is 38 and absolutely gorgeous). Apparently they are being inundated with enquiries from single mothers at the moment because ‘they aren’t going to be able to pay their rent’.”

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Have you heard something similar? In the most discreet possible way, we’re asking people with knowledge of the s-x industry to confirm or refute this tip … perhaps better to stay anonymous?

Nicknames of the rich and famous. Crikey is keen to learn some of the nicknames of our pollies (eg Laurie “The Log” Ferguson). We asked yesterday if Tony Abbott is still known as “Abbo”. You obliged:

“Abbo has not died. I surf regularly along the Manly stretch and Abbott and his friends surf there when his schedule allows. They call him Abbo. ‘Great wave Abbo!’. ‘Aw, Abbo, you got crunched!'”

“I mix occasionally with people who have known TA from college days, and he is still very much Abbo to them. He has an amazing ability to hold these people’s loyalty. Don’t get it myself, having met him a few times …”. Ouch!

But that’s not where this Tip ends. Imagine our delight at receiving this tidbit on Andrew Robb. To you, he’s the opposition spokesman on Finance, Deregulation and Debt Reduction. But to others he’s known as …

“MP Andrew Robb was always known as Andy which probably lacked gravitas for a political aspirant, but for 10 years from the late 1960s was known as Mr Bojangles for his preference for singing mainly this song, verse after verse after verse after (sigh) verse whenever he managed to find the guitar that everyone else thought was well hidden.”

Perhaps Mr Bojangles could form a duo with that guitar-picking Glenn Stevens? We put this Tip to Robb, who replied: “It’s not strictly true. On many occasions ‘Mr Bojangles’ took a back seat to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.”

And there are more nicknames on Capital Hill:

“Joe Hockey was known as ‘The Bodyguard’ when he was transiting High School to Uni as he got all the girls home safely.”

“Bruce Billson is affectionately referred to as ‘Bunter’ because of his affable nature and similarity as a youngster to the fictional Billy Bunter character from the Greyfriars School stories in the early 1900s. Others simply refer to him as ‘Billy’ ie Billy Bunter or Billy Billson.”

Turns out this is lots of fun! Know any more nicknames? Be sure to keep Tips in the loop … if you’re very nice to us, we might reveal some of the nicknames of those staffing the Crikey bunker.

Is there a podiatrist in the house? A tipster alerted us to something which may be dodgy at retailer Target.

“Check out Target’s ‘podiatry approved’ school shoes! They mention a website Went there, I don’t see any podiatrist or podiatry association connected to it. So can Target make allied health professional claims without backing it up? What next, Hungry Jacks tells us to go to”

We looked into this, and there are references on blogs to these shoes being sold in Target in Australia. But has a podiatrist been near these shoes?

The website doesn’t seem expert and doesn’t tell us who is behind the site. Australasian Podiatry Council CEO Damian Mitsch told us the group was concerned about the shoe range and had “contacted the parties involved some time ago requesting that they stop advertising in this manner”.

“Advertising like this can be very problematic,” Mitsch said. “If Target does not reconsider their use of this material we think parents may understandably become confused … our professionalism is not for sale.”

We’ve asked Target for comment and will keep you posted.

Hamper rage. Crikey loves nothing more than a good Christmas hamper tip, but we didn’t expect they’d run so far into the new year. Here goes:

“I subscribed to The Age’s pre-Xmas promotion, hampers were offered to people who subscribed to a weekend paper delivery. The hampers where supposed to be delivered before Xmas Day. Ours never arrived. Phone calls to the The Age caused frustration for me as I was on hold for 10 minutes before being told I’d be on hold for 20 mins, then 30 mins. I hung up. I sent emails over the next few days. I called again after New Year’s Day and finally someone spoke to me and a refund was arranged. I was told three to five working days. That time has passed and still no money and no hamper. I called this morning, confirmed our refund will arrive in 28 days.

Meanwhile, a conversation with a fellow Age subscriber revealed a similar story, while someone who did not subscribe has had a hamper delivered before Xmas as promised by the promotion. As a long time reader of The Age and a former subscriber I am stunned that a media organisation, with plummeting circulation figures and shrinking profits, would go to such lengths to annoy and frustrate their client base. It’s the most unheard of thing I have ever heard of.”

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

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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