From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Essendon to lose points today? Could the AFL drugs saga take a dramatic turn today? According to one tipster:

“Overheard in a medical establishment an hour ago, Essendon to lose premiership points today, coach James Hird to go and one member of the leadership group are having medical checks for possible side effects.”

ASIO hunting for wiretappers: Unfazed by the revelations of the US government’s vast, illegal and hitherto secret internet and phone surveillance activities, local spooks ASIO are recruiting for wiretappers. This recruitment ad shows ASIO will pay you nearly $100,000 a year if you can help tap phones. If you have the right engineering and people skills, you’ll find yourself:

  • Liaising with telecommunications carriers for the development of lawful interception systems;
  • Liaising with industry for the development of specialist systems;
  • Compliance testing of interception solutions;
  • Trouble-shooting system faults; and
  • Developing in-house lawful interception solutions.

We suspect that knowledge of basic privacy principles is desirable but not essential.

Aston signs with Nine. The Australian Financial Review gossip columnist Joe Aston’s star continues to rise: the former Etihad and Joe Hockey spinner has signed on with Channel Nine as a roving correspondent. As well as continuing his duties at the Fin, Aston will be popping up regularly on the Today show and during Nine’s cricket broadcasts as well as on Financial Review Sunday. Crikey hears Nine CEO David Gyngell is a fan of Aston’s provocative persona and was keen to expand his brief. A Nine spokesperson told Crikey: “Instead of him camping out [at Nine] we thought it would be wise to extend him to some real work.”

More APN job losses. Tips understands APN intends to cut approximately 20% of its workforce at newspaper editorial production hub Centro. Management broke the news to staff yesterday, and some subeditors have decided to take voluntary redundancy as part of the cuts. Staff were told economic conditions made the sackings “inevitable” — revenue in APN’s regional arm fell 14% in the first half of the calendar year. APN chief executive Michael Miller told the SMH last week the company wouldn’t be shutting down any more mastheads in the near future.

 ‘Circulation is meaningless’. We enjoyed this circular from Fairfax honcho Greg Hywood …

So circulation doesn’t matter? Would that be because it’s going off the cliff? Read more about Fairfax’s financial situation in our Media section below.

Robocalls galore. With the election looming, some of our readers have been hit with plenty of robocalls (and Tips is concerned that with some of them, you can’t hang up).

“I received a robocall at around 4pm yesterday. It started out normally (press 1 for the ALP, 2 for the Liberal Party, etc), but then drifted into anti-Coalition territory — ‘Do you support stopping the boats?’, ‘Do you support ditching the carbon tax?’.  I waited on the line at the end, and sure enough ‘this survey was conducted by the Australian Labor Party, Canberra’, but only after a 30-second blank air pause.”

“Earlier I received a phone call about a week ago from a gentleman who in a dead monotone said, ‘My name is John, I’m a volunteer on the campaign for Adrian Evans, your local ALP candidate. Would you be prepared to listen to some of his policies for the next few minutes?’ Naturally, with such a great speaking voice, I was anxious to do anything else, and replied that I would be voting for the Liberal Party, thanks to his wonderful presentation. My wife just informed me that she received yet another robocall around 8pm last night, and hung up straight away, but found that even after five minutes, the line was still tied up.”

So what happens if you need to call an ambulance? Tips is worried.

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

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Peter Fray
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