From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

NSW Labor ructions. Seems like poor old NSW Labor, reeling from ICAC, is in more trouble. A mole passed this on:

“A spat is developing in the NSW Parliament among members of the Labor Left over leader Luke Foley’s conservative social and economic views. The Greens euthanasia bill is the catalyst, but Foley’s opposition to gay marriage and euthanasia and support for electricity privatisation is starting to cause consternation that he is supported by the Left to get into Parliament, but with no strong Left values to speak of.”

Foley sits in the state’s upper house and is a prominent member of the Left faction. As the party’s planning spokesman, he provided support for the concept of James Packer’s new high-rolling casino at Barangaroo. We put the tip to Foley and will provide you with his response when it comes through.

Airport flies away from tax? A tipster has got in touch claiming that Sydney airport enjoys a very sweet tax deal. Our tipster reckons the airport corp “banks $1 billion profit each year (out of $3 billion revenue/sales) and pay no tax, which makes the exploitation of the monopoly all the more outrageous”. Further:

“The ACCC suspects under-investment in the airport asset but they don’t know how extensive that really is. Try around $1.5 million pa to maintain a billion-dollar asset. The airport is being run down to such a level it will fall apart eventually or the next owner will have to spend so much to upgrade they will have no option but to increase pricing further. It’s ironic that their CFO’s salary is more than they spend on annual maintenance.”

So is our tipster on the money? We looked at the Sydney Airport Corporation Limited’s books, and found it made a pre-tax profit of $789.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2011. According to the report, the airport does pay income tax.

We’re relying on expert (and Plane Talking blogger) Ben Sandilands to help us sort this one out. We’ll get back to you.

Hun price rise. We’ve heard a whisper the Herald Sun is to increase its cover price (currently at $1.20 on weekdays). Punters get a free lotto ticket this Saturday — is that to dull the pain of the price rise? Let’s hope the cover price doesn’t head closer towards the magic price of $2 …

News Ltd wordsmiths. A reader was not impressed with this headline on news.com.au. WTF, subs?

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

Peter Fray

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