From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Trouble in paradise? As Kevin Rudd tours his home state of Queensland today, it seems Labor might be struggling there. This from a little bird …

“The Rudd show campaigning in Queensland has raised some concern about Peel Street’s preparedness for the campaign. Senior advisers have also expressed some concern at the quality of candidates including the candidate in Capricornia where Rudd and senior ministers will be campaigning mid-week.”

Sitting ALP member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore is leaving politics; Peter Freeleagus won ALP preselection for the seat, despite another candidate winning more votes among local party members (the Labor electoral college endorsed Freeleagus).

Quigley misses out on NBN. Outgoing NBN chief Mike Quigley has bought a new home overlooking Hyde Park in the Sydney CBD — a three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment that cost him a cool $3.85 million. Our friends at Property Observer, who reported on the purchase, pointed out that Quigley’s pied-a-terre won’t be getting the NBN soon — it’s not scheduled to roll out in that part of town for the next three years. Quigley might have to rely on the old Telstra dongle in the interim.

Telephone counsellors cling on. Tips heard some concerning news last week, alleging that Lifeline had cut its 12-month training program for volunteers — who end up with a certificate IV in telephone counselling — to a shorter program of just a few weeks in order to cut costs, leaving telephone counsellors insufficiently trained. But Lifeline assures Crikey that’s just not true at all; volunteers train for six months and spend the next six months being heavily supervised and completing further training. The cause of confusion seems to be a rapid training trial done at one of the telephone centres, but so far that was just a trial.

But it got us thinking: have you worked (or do you work) for a telephone counselling service? Any goss on how well — or poorly — staff are trained? Don’t call us, just drop us a line

Supermarket goss. Yesterday Tips brought you the shocking report that Coles claims that if queues are long you get $5 off your bill, but some stores don’t make good on that claim. Does anyone want to try this out at the local Coles and let us know what happens?

We heard back from a frequent shopper who noted that a US supermarket chain gives you your groceries for free if there are more than two shoppers ahead of you. “Compare that to the apparent business model of Woolworths, which consists of lengthy queues of frustrated shoppers waiting for others to negotiate the unfriendly and unfathomable whims of self-serve checkouts or queuing for the single check-out which features a human being,” our tipster added. This got us thinking — what has happened to Australia’s check-out staff? All those workers who have been replaced by machines at self-service check-outs? Perhaps they’ve been redeployed elsewhere at the supermarket — but Tips doubts it. Retail staff, get in touch.

Party members. Crikey is trying to work out how many members our political parties have (most parties treat this as a state secret, and some put out fake numbers). Tips readers helped us get closer to the truth yesterday, but we’re still in the dark on the Nationals. The closest we’ve got is “several tens of thousands” of members (excluding the LNP in Queensland). Can you help? If you’re an insider in the Nats — or any party — tell Crikey how many members there are nationwide or in your state. We’re also interested to hear from insiders on which state is the powerhouse in your party. Seems to be NSW ahead of Victoria for the Greens, while the LNP in Queensland is doing better, members-wise, than Coalition parties in other states. Have we got that right?

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

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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