From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Fairfax #1: changing of the guard? Strong suggestions are coming from several sources that Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett is preparing to step down later in the year, possibly at the company’s annual general meeting. Watch this space.

Fairfax #2: desk strategy runs into trouble. Tips has heard from an inside source that the Fairfax hot-desking concept (i.e. workers don’t have their own desks, they move around each day) is causing concern because all the hot desks are permanently tilted, which makes them uncomfortable to use. The reason for the tilt is so content left on each hot desk at the end of the day can be easily swept off into a box by cleaning staff and sent to the lost property office.

Fairfax #3: paywall may be slow in coming. The long-delayed paywall will come up around Fairfax websites on July 2. At least that’s what some staff have been told, Crikey hears. Still, as one told us, it’s “unlikely to be the actual date though, as rollouts are always delayed”. Indeed — and this one has been delayed repeatedly. News Limited started locking readers out of stories on The Daily Telegraph last week and switched to the same metered model on the Herald Sun website, and it is due to launch its “News+” online subscription at The Courier-Mail in July.

Legal gossip. Is it true that the federal government is “stacking the courts with Labor supporters or members”? A legal eagle tells us that Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus is “running around the country telling all about the ‘transparent selection process’ and how the Labor Government appoints candidates of excellence”. But our mole reckons some candidates given the go-ahead by the interview process have been overlooked in preference to Labor favourites after senior figures intervened. Apparently some successful candidates aren’t even being interviewed … “the government has muddied the waters in terms of the separation of powers,” our source concludes. Does this ring true to legal readers? Tell us your thoughts

Pansy Wong saga put to rest. Tips got rather excited last week to see ABC’s The Drum refer to our esteemed Finance Minister as Pansy Wong, which ticked our fancy. After relentlessly pursuing the issue with the help of readers, we heard from Lisa Whitby, EP of the show:

“As you pointed out, Pansy Wong is a real person — confusingly, also with a political background, albeit in New Zealand. And just like the last time an Australian media outlet got it wrong, there was a Kiwi connection — this time, a staffer in the ABC’s EPG department who’s spent a bit of time across the Tasman. Contrary to some suggestions on Twitter, it was not a mistake by The Drum editorial team — just one of those weird ‘lost in translation’ moments on the way to the program guide. When we realised what had happened, we immediately apologised to the Finance Minister — her adviser assured us she understood what had happened, and wasn’t phased!”

That’s certainly an easy mistake for a person familiar with NZ to make. All is forgiven. And thumbs up to Wong for not being a diva about it.

Incidentally, while Wong can appear dry in the media, behind the scenes she has a tendency to be amusing and charming, and she enjoys a good joke. This is in marked contrast to some other pollies we could name, who seem all right on the television but are a pain in the bum in real life. Have you got personal experience of what a senior politician is like behind the scenes? We’d love to hear about it, and you can be totally anonymous

To keep the ball rolling, Coalition frontbencher Chris Pyne is really quite funny away from the TV cameras, while Labor minister Anthony “Albo” Albanese is gregarious and acquits himself well at karaoke. Rising Liberal star Jamie Briggs is friendly and gets on well with folks from across the political spectrum. But oh goodness, we can think of one fairly junior Coalition MP who thinks very well of himself (and his impressive career) and likes to take the moral high ground, a stance his private behaviour might cast some doubt on …

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

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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