From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Ed Killesteyn’s career. AEC commissioner Ed Killesteyn yesterday faced the media to “apologise unreservedly” for his organisation losing some 1400 votes in the WA, which may lead to a fresh election in that state. “We’re left with a nagging and almost irreconcilable doubt about the outcome of the WA Senate election,” he said. Bizarrely, the AEC may challenge its own results for the Senate in WA. It’s not a good look at all for the much-respected body.

This is the same Ed Killestyn who was deputy secretary of the immigration department around the time of the scandals involving Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez. Rau, a mentally ill Australian resident, was wrongfully detained for months in jail and in the Baxter detention centre in 2004-05. Alvarez, an Australian citizen, was wrongly deported to the Philippines by immigration officials in 2001 (and stayed there until 2005). The two cases sparked extensive investigations. Killesteyn, from 2002 the deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (as it was called at the time), moved out of the department in 2005 following the investigations. Authorities said Killesteyn and two other officials “came to their own conclusion that it would be better to allow others to manage the change process in DIMIA”.

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You won’t find those details in Killesteyn’s official bio on the AEC website:

Racing goss. Ms Tips is sad she has to work Melbourne Cup day and holds out slim hope for her pick in the Crikey office sweep (Ibicenco) — but at least she can bring you a racing-themed tip. Tom Waterhouse has been relatively quiet since selling his business to William Hill in August. But a Crikey stringer spied him the exclusive Crystal Room at Crown Towers yesterday, sitting with an older associate at a table with room for more to join. Will he back a winner today? He’s had some trouble backing Mum’s horse …

Now this is news. It was a real tribute to News Corp that journos in the stable won every gong at the prestigious journalism awards held in Brisbane on Friday night. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was the News Corp awards, which only News Corp publications could enter. Makes up for the company’s poor showing in this year’s Walkley nominations. Anyway, we heard this anonymous claim of the shindig (attended by Rupert Murdoch):

“While their employees were being feted for some remarkable achievements during the year, some News execs were at their embarrassing best at the News awards. Mr X went arse-up smashing glasses in a drunken stupor and inebriated editor Mr Y thought it perfectly appropriate to criticise his staff. And they weren’t the only offenders.”

Now, we can’t tell you who Mr X and Mr Y might be because we would have Rupert’s lawyers on the phone (and they’re busy right now in London). Did someone topple over amongst broken glass?

Profit release. Speaking of News Corp, the company has finally updated the world on the release of its first-quarter profit … and it will be next Tuesday morning, Sydney time, at 8.30am. Meanwhile, 21st Century Fox reveals its first-quarter result tomorrow at 8am. Will Rupert Murdoch attend either briefing? We still don’t have the timing for the 2012-13 annual meeting for News Corp.

Touche, Clive. We’ve been enjoying The Australian’s crusade against Clive Palmer and commend the paper for doing it — but at times the stories seem a little thin for the front page. Today’s Hedley Thomas “exclusive” is that Palmer has pulled his Sunshine Coast tourist resort from the ownership of his nickel refinery, “which has been racking up increasingly heavy losses of tens of millions of dollars a year”. Clive’s response?

Real estate is just not cricket. Our friends at Property Observer tell us that Ricky Pointing has sold his five-bedroom NSW pad (in Sutherland Shire) for more than $4.275 million and is moving to Melbourne’s Brighton. The Pontings will take up residence in “a 1920s Edwardian seven-bedroom house on 1890 square metres of land”. Very nice. However, apparently real estate matters are moving less quickly for fellow ex-cricketer Shane Warne.

APS ready to slash. We’ve heard from quite a few federal public servants who received an email yesterday stating that 12,000 jobs are to be cut (this has been Coalition policy for some time), and that the bosses will start with contract staff. Can anyone forward us the full email? We also continue to hear rumbles from some within the service who are not at all happy about Abbott lopping the heads of some senior public servants. The feeling from some is that these public servants are apolitical in the way they do their work, and should be treated as such, rather than being thrown out with every change of government.

Nerds say no to e-voting. Electronic voting is back in the news after the debacle over the WA Senate count. Our resident IT guru Stilgherrian passed this on to Tips:

“At the Ruxcon information security conference held the weekend before last, the University of Melbourne’s Dr Vanessa Teague, who studies the cryptographic protocols behind electronic voting systems, asked her audience of some 300 to 400 hackers whether they thought internet voting would be a good idea. Maybe two hands went up. A bad idea? Pretty much every other hand was raised immediately. And that was before they heard her presentation, which systematically ripped holes in the entire concept — even when we’re ‘just’ taking about computers working offline, as a fancy pencil and paper. Dr Teague said ‘we have to be careful that the computers cast the vote that the voter actually intended to cast, and we have to make sure there’s evidence that all of the votes are properly recorded and transmitted and tallied’.”

There’s a Crikey briefing here and a podcast of the interview with Dr Teague here, if you’re feeling geeky and would like to learn more.

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

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