From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Lawyers’ pay freeze. Seems like some lawyers might have to defer buying that delightful little beach getaway at Batemans Bay for a few more years. We’ve had an interesting response to this Crikey story about how lawyers at law firms no longer enjoy much greater pay increases than corporate firms’ in-house lawyers. Kate Gibbs reported that law firms were paring back their high, automatic pay increases (up to 15% pa) to be in line with what corporate firms pay their lawyers, i.e. less.

A legal eagle forwarded us this recent email from Herbert Smith Freehills, a large international firm with 800 lawyers and 190 partners in Australia (offices are in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane). In very nice language, this is a pay freeze:

“As many of you will be aware, towards the end of the last year we saw a rapid and deep shift in the market for legal services in Australia and a number of our practice areas started to experience a sharp down turn. Most law firms in the country have experienced similar conditions.

After considering our forecast for next year and the prevailing market conditions, we have made the difficult decision to defer the upcoming salary review that was due to occur before 1 July. This applies to all permanent and fixed term business services staff and lawyers on the Australian pay-roll only. This decision is in response to challenging market conditions in our region and is unrelated to the merger. We appreciate that there have been some areas of peak workloads and exceptional performance and we will seek to recognise this through a bonus pool. Based on profit forecasts, partner incomes have already been reduced and this will continue in the 2013-14 financial year …

We have not taken this decision lightly. We have been looking at a range of other options for some time before deciding to take this step. We are also taking other measures to ensure the sustainability of the business including, placing a hold on legal recruitment, reviewing the way we resource matters, minimising travel and other expenses, e.g. we’ve cancelled our next regional partner conference.

This deferral of the salary review coincides with the Government decision to increase statutory superannuation contributions. Whilst it is not our usual practice to compensate staff for these types of statutory changes, as a once off measure, we will pay the increase to your statutory superannuation contribution directly into your superannuation account so that your salary remains unchanged, while salaries are on hold …”

We’ve asked around, and it seems the other large legal firms have not implemented a pay freeze. If you’re a legal insider, let us know what’s going on at your firm.

Sandwich mystery. So Prime Minister Julia Gillard was attacked with a sandwich at a school run by Alan Jones yesterday — should we be surprised? A student has apparently been suspended for lobbing the luncheon item at Gillard at Marsden High School. Alan Jones — not that Alan Jones — is the school’s principal. Tips would love to know what sort of a sandwich it was. If it was Vegemite, that’s one thing. But imagine if it was tuna or egg … if you’re school insider, help us solve the mystery and email us here.

LNP email. This email went out on the LNP mailing list. It certainly is terrible that Labor would heartlessly “dump” refugees “into the community” …

The arrival of the latest boat means that over 40,000 people have now arrived by boat under Labor’s failed border protection regime.

That’s more than the population of Kalgoorlie-Boulder (30,900), Wodonga (31,600), Gladstone (32,100), Queanbeyan (35,900) and Tamworth (36,200). So far this financial year, over 20,000 people have arrived on 320 boats. This compares with just 25 people on three boats in the final year that the Howard Government’s policies were in place.

Labor’s failure to protect our borders worsens by the day – and alongside its failure to control the Budget, is this Government’s greatest policy failure. It is a failure that has cost lives, damaged our country’s reputation, cost over $6.6 billion in Budget blowouts and resulted in tens of thousands of people dumped into the community.

The people smugglers know this is a weak government that doesn’t have its heart in defending our borders. With the failures on our borders worsening every day, Australia cannot afford another three years of Labor

The Coalition offers a clear choice when it comes to implementing policies that will secure our borders.  We will:

·         re-introduce Temporary Protection Visas to deny the people smugglers a product to sell,

·         have rigorous offshore processing, and

·         give new orders to the Navy to turn back boats where it is safe to do so.

We will restore the proven policies of the last Coalition Government that actually stopped the boats.

Don’t forget Vanstone. Crikey pounced on the latest furore over the ABC’s apparent Left bias (this time it was over the new host of Media Watch, Paul Barry) to air our list of how many ABC figures have gone on to be candidates for political parties. A tipster added a name — ex-ABC sports reporter Leon Bignell is now a minister in the SA Labor government. Take a look at the list and let us know if we’ve missed anyone.

And tipsters had some extra names that don’t technically qualify for our list, but are relevant to whether the ABC swings Left or Right. Ex-Coalition frontbencher Amanda Vanstone now hosts ABC Radio National’s Counterpoint. Owen Lloyd, who worked with Jim Bonner in the ABC’s press gallery office in Canberra for some years, joined Malcolm Fraser’s staff as assistant press secretary in or around 1974 (thanks, Mungo). And yes, Mark Scott himself has a past with the Liberals — but that’s on our list already.

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