From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Parliament House down to the wire? What’s this we’re hearing about a new news wire service out of Parliament House in Canberra? Should AAP be worried? The people we’re told are involved are denying any knowledge, but the idea has been mooted for a while and, with cutbacks across the major bureaus, it does make some sense. Stay tuned …

Union heavy in legal trouble. One reasonably prominent union boss is facing some pretty nasty assault charges in court, we’ve been told. No names yet until we can get some comment. But it’s certainly being kept well hidden at this stage. Do you know more? Drop us a line or use the anonymous form on the website.

Back to school on acronyms. Oh, there are plenty more unfortunate acronyms where they came from. We reported exclusively that Federation University (FU) staff were told to avoid shortening the uni’s name, but as one Crikey mole writes, it’s never bothered Flinders University in South Australia:

“The cricket club (FUCC) was disappointed that it just missed out on the coveted acronym, but the sports association very quickly came up with the Flinders University Canoe & Kayak Society (very small ampersand used) which solved the problem. The Adelaide City Council had a predictable response when the club wanted to have its own boat shed on the banks of the River Torrens in the city centre, advising that it would only be allowed if the society’s name was painted on as ‘Flinders University of SA Canoe & Kayak Society’. Spoilsports. I seem to remember that the society decided not to bother with a boathouse.”

A Flinders student reports there’s always been a bit of fun with acronyms there, including the FUUC (Flinders University Underwater Club), FUCS (Flinders University Choral Society) and FUCS (Flinders University Clubs and Societies). All rather unfortunate.

And it doesn’t stop there. We’ve been told that in the late 1980s, with the amalgamation of universities in vogue, two northern New South Wales campuses were briefly know as Combined Universities Northern Tablelands. That, surprisingly, didn’t last long. Then there’s the school in the top end that for 18 months was known as the College University of Northern Territory. Our local correspondent Bob Gosford (of The Northern Myth) takes up the story:

“In the mid-1980s the then-Country Liberal Party government in the NT desperately wanted the kudos of having a local university. The feds kept knocking them back (rightly) saying that the population was too small, etc. In 1985 the CLP went ahead anyway and took the unusual step of financing the University College of the Northern Territory itself for a five-year period from 1987 to 1991, with degrees etc being awarded through the University of Queensland. Apparently a local politician insisted that the fledgling institution be called the College of the University of the Northern Territory, that is until a bureaucrat pointed out that the relevant acronym derived from that configuration may be inappropriate. So students got to study at a UCNT of a university instead of a …”

Birthday greetings and hurt MPs. In Melbourne, state Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown dispatches heartfelt letters to constituents turning 30, we reported yesterday. In the same ‘hood, federal Labor MP Michael Danby apparently mails out cards for constituents turning 65. But back in 2010, one resident wasn’t impressed. She fired off the following email:

“While it may seem churlish, I do not wish to thank you for the large and costly card that you recently sent for my 65th birthday. Firstly, I have no idea why this would be of any significance, above any other birthday, especially now that we are being encouraged to work until we drop. Secondly, as I only ever hear from you when there’s an election in the offing, the greeting seems a little hollow.  Thirdly, I would rather my taxes were spent on something a little more valuable.”

The MP was left hurt. He sent back the following response:

“It does sound churlish. We have been sending them to people for years with but two complaints, including yours. Just this week most of the electorate received a brochure from me explaining all the services they can access re tagging. We regularly send newsletters electorate wide, moreover I’m probably in the media more than any non minister. Perhaps its in both our interests if I ensure that you are not bothered again.”

Aw.

No credit for buying a lotto ticket. One Crikey reader reported on Monday that Westpac was charging Visa customers a $2.50 cash advance fee when purchasing Tattslotto tickets online. We’re told the Commonwealth Bank is doing similar: “When I queried it they gave the answer along the lines ‘all forms of gambling are cash advance’ along with a few other exceptions.” So what’s going on? Another reader, Greg Fisher, might have the answer:

“In most states you can not legally buy lotto tickets using ‘credit’ cards. This means that even Visa and Mastercard debit transactions need to be EFTPOS cash transactions, and therefore atrract the EFTPOS fee.”

Case closed?

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