From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

New construction czar? The Abbott government is champing at the bit to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the Howard government’s building and construction watchdog, which was detested by unions and ceased to operate last year. So who would head up the new-look ABCC? An insider reports:

“I continue to get messages that the cabinet is about to announce that Nigel Hadgkiss will be appointed to head up the resurrected Australian Building and Construction Industry, but if Hadgkiss is appointed, what becomes of Fair Work Building and Construction and its boss [i.e. CEO], Leigh Johns?”

Hadgkiss, who was deputy commissioner of the ABCC from 2005 to 2008, currently heads up Victoria’s Construction Code Compliance Unit, a role from which he has taken on the ABCC’s successor, Fair Work Building and Construction. The Australian describes him as “an outspoken critic of unions,” so he could well be a favourite of Employment Minister Eric Abetz.

Mind you, The Australian Financial Review reckons the job could go to former head of industrial relations for construction companies Transfield and John Holland, Stephen Sasse. And we’re not quite sure how Abetz will coax the resurrection of the ABCC through the current Senate? It’s anathema to Labor and the Greens …

Who’s who in the Liberal staffroom. One of the Abbott government’s media advisers, Kane Silom, knows a thing or two about dealing with cross-bench senators from whacky microparties. Why, he used to work for memorable former Family First senator Steve Fielding. Silom stayed in politics by switching to the office of Bruce Billson, who is now Small Business Minister. Silom is a stayer indeed … and anyone who’s been a media spokesman for a senator dressed as a giant beer bottle knows a thing of two about crisis management.

Meanwhile, one of Abbott’s senior media people is Kate Walshe, who used to handle media for former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu, who lost the top job in March. It’s believed the Victorian government wanted to keep Walshe on but she moved to the federal level (in a former life she worked for Julie Bishop). The well-liked Adrian Barrett is handling the PM’s media enquiries from radio, an area he knows plenty about, while Cleo Bachelor of the Year finalist James Boyce is also staying with Abbott.

Julie Bishop is sticking with long-time staffer Murray Hansen, seen by colleagues as a good operator. Finance Minister Mathias “the Cormannator” Cormann’s elevation to cabinet gives us not one but two good names — his media staffer Slade Brockmann sounds like a dashing Bond hero (or villain?).

There’s plenty of continuity in Scott Morrison’s office, with the youthful Julian Leembruggen staying on, and Ann Brandon-Baker the Chief of Staff (is she the same person as Ann Duffield, who used to head up Morrison’s office and may have got married?). Malcolm Turnbull has some good young staff on board, including ex-Fairfax journo and team Turnbull stalwart Jon Dart, and ex-staffer Sally Cray, who returns to the fold after a stint at the ABC (handy link for a communications minister). Ministerial veteran Kevin Andrews has retained long-time staffer Nick Demiris. Ex-National Farmers Federation type Brett Heffernan is working with Warren Truss.

There will be plenty more to come on this front as ministers finalise their staff. Expect some promotions and some new faces. If you know any inside gossip, tell Tips anonymously.

More Rudds in politics? Former first daughter Jess Rudd had this to say today:

We’re wondering if Jess herself might do some rebranding in the future. She’s a successful commentator and author, politically savvy, and has a good understanding of China (where she has lived, and is now). Could she make a tilt for politics at some stage?

Read about it in Tips first. The Daily Telegraph is very excited today to unveil the news on who runs the trucking company associated with a fatal crash in Sydney. It’s on page one, with the full story on page 10 (“exclusive”). Of course, you could read all that in Tips yesterday.

Bauer staff short-changed on pay. Australian staff at German-owned magazine house Bauer have been caught short as the company admits it can’t pay everyone on time this fortnight. Here’s the email from payroll:

Unfortunately due to an error in the payroll processing on Thursday there will be a delay to some salary payments. HSBC will be processing the file this morning and the funds will transfer to your account as various banks run their sweeps during the day. Most funds will have transferred by the end of the day though there can be some delays with some credit unions.

We apologise immensely for the delay and any inconvenience it may cause and please, contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns.



Payroll Manager
Bauer Media

As one disgruntled mole told Crikey: “Given the way Bauer is managed, none of us should be surprised if we go into the weekend and early next week with sick-looking bank balances. It’s a shame the efficiency Bauer displays at boning employees and closing down magazine titles doesn’t translate to paying its staff. When we were told it would be business as usual when Bauer took over ACP, we didn’t realise that would include retaining the piss-poor management practices of the past.”

Ouch. What else is going wrong at Park Street? Drop us a line — anonymity is, of course, guaranteed.

*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
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