From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Carsales.com.au: join the dots. What’s going on at Carsales.com.au? Two separate stories today could add up to something. Firstly, in The Sydney Morning Herald:

“The big car makers have struck out on their own, removing their ads from monopoly online vertical Carsales.com.au … New car listings for Holden, Nissan, Honda and Volkswagen have dropped sharply as the auto makers issue directives to their dealerships to withhold from Australia’s dominant online site for car buyers.”

Secondly, in The Australian Financial Review:

“A few hours after the ASX closed on Thursday, Carsales.com chairman Walter Pisciotta off-loaded $1.16 million of shares ….”

We’re now waiting for story #3 …

Job cuts at IBM? Is IBM shedding staff in Australia? The company told us it “doesn’t comment on rumour or speculation”, but according to one insider “all sorts of people” are being made redundant. Their complaint is that many remaining are on 457 visas; “mid-level managers, i.e. hardly people with unique skills”. The company’s spokesperson told us: “IBM fully complies with the 457 visa laws in Australia.” Good to know.

La Trobe changes: stay tuned. We flagged on Tuesday changes at La Trobe University in Melbourne, with education teaching set to be merged into the Faculty of Humanities. Now a response:

“La Trobe University is undertaking a ‘root and branch’ review of operations due to federal funding cuts, rising costs and increasing sector competition for student places. Our main goal is [to] ensure that La Trobe continues to make an even stronger financial, intellectual and social contribution to communities and continues to be a great place to study, teach and undertake research. La Trobe University remains committed to training pre-service teachers.”

So, nothing confirmed, but we hear it’s definitely on. Meanwhile, La Trobe’s Pro Vice Chancellor Dr Kerry Ferguson, who manages equity and student services, has apparently left the building. On this Crikey got a firm “no comment”.

PUP pipped by Brough in Fisher. At one stage, it looked as though there could be five Palmer United Party MPs heading to Canberra. Mal Brough looked to be under challenge by PUP in the seat of Fisher — formerly held by Peter Slipper. PUP candidate William Schoch was sitting just behind the Labor candidate Bill Gissane.  With Greens preferences going to PUP ahead of Labor, it looked as though PUP would pull ahead and come close to Brough on Labor preferences which also went to PUP.

Until the AEC publishes the full distribution of preferences, we won’t know know how close PUP came. The AEC has confirmed, however, that all votes have now been counted and the full distribution completed. “With a fresh scrutiny of ballots in Fisher and during the full distribution of preference process, it indeed became clear that the ALP candidate was clearly the second ranked candidate,” the AEC told us, but only “when the preferences for all of the other candidates had been distributed”. Close, but not close enough.

Greens looking at themselves in mirror. A Tasmanian Greens member reported yesterday that party officials seemed to be shutting down debate about the recent poor electoral showing. Ex-democrat turned Greens Queensland convenor Andrew Bartlett assures us the hard questions will be asked. He wrote to Crikey yesterday:

“The Greens in Queensland are having a comprehensive review and discussion of the federal election campaign and results at our state conference later this month (open to all members to attend) and as far as I know other states are doing the same. And the whole party will be doing something similar as part of our national conference, which is also happening in Brisbane the following month. The MPs will be present too, so it’s not true to assert that they ‘don’t tolerate discussion’ (although we are still to hear whether or not Scott Ludlam’s hair will make a special appearance). There’s plenty to talk about — good and bad — all focused on how best to get on with saving that planet of ours (which now needs saving a bit more than it already did), assisting the disadvantaged and tackling the further decline already apparent in government respect for human rights — and winning some more votes along the way.”

We reckon mainly the latter, but good to know they’ve got their priorities right.

Spotted #1: a loud George Brandis. A Canberra spy reports:

“Earlier this week our new Attorney-General George Brandis dined in the cloistered confines of the Commonwealth Club in Canberra with a couple of his ‘noddies’. It is a rather conservative place and one is expected not to behave in a raucous or loud manner. Apparently the A-G must have thought the opposite, making a lot of noise, speaking indiscreetly and laughing like a donkey hee-haws. It got so bad that one old member felt compelled to go and ask the (to him) unknown man if he could quieten down a little.”

Spotted #2: Hildebrand on the run. And from Sydney:

“I spotted The Daily Telegraph columnist/ABC doco-maker/Channel Ten’s The Project talking head Joe Hildebrand out jogging one Saturday evening around 6pm. He’s a very busy man and mustn’t get any time to relax as he was carrying on a phone conversation with some source or TV exec while trying to get a little exercise, poor dear.”

Who have you seen getting down to business? Drop us a line or use the anonymous form on the website

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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