From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Turn back the boats? Not on my watch. There’s a rumour doing the rounds in Perth, we’re told, that a current Australian naval captain is willing to defy orders to turn the boats back to Indonesia. “Basically, he sees it as a contravention of international law and therefore it is justifiable to disobey orders,” one mole says. Now that could get interesting …

For sale: PM’s house for $54m. Prime Minister’s harbour-side digs are for sale — you can snap up Kirribilli House at a steal for just $54.5 million. Well, not really, but a United States blog that specialises in fantasy listings has done the valuation work for a fake ad. Now think how much that could help the federal government’s bottom line as the Commission of Audit examines cost savings …

Proof of life for super (cont’d). On Friday we brought you the case of a 96-year-old receiving her dead husband’s fortnightly superannuation payment through ComSuper — and being asked to confirm she’s still, well, alive. Pretty common practice, as we noted then, and a superannuation industry insider agrees:

“It is important to point out that superannuation funds are required by legislation to ensure that accounts they hold are both ‘active’ and not ‘lost’. Inactivity can be demonstrated by a lack of interaction between a member and their account, and an account can be lost if mail is returned to the fund. Hence this letter to the mother was likely serving multiple other purposes, as well as ensuring that the recipient of the super pension was alive.

“Even if it were solely to check on the ‘aliveness’ of the recipient, this in itself is prudent considering the CSS scheme is very generous, taxpayer funded, and currently carrying a multi-billion dollar liability that will fall on future generations. I would rather my taxpayer dollars not being used to fund pensions for people who are not alive … and a polite letter does not seem at all inappropriate.”

Unfortunate acronyms — the final straw. Bad acronyms! Wow. Didn’t they inspire you? This has to be the last time we do it, folks. But some memorable did-they-think-that-through examples have kept coming in …

FART? “When casting around for a new name for the then Canberra Omnibus Service (it was about 1975 or so) one briefly considered name was Federal Area Rapid Transit (a nod to San Francisco). It lasted about 30 seconds. We got the Australian Capital Territory Internal Omnibus Service to take us into the new age. It is still so named (well the acronym remains, but I doubt anyone remembers its source).”

SHIT? “I do recall in my youth (over 50 years ago) visiting the Surrey Hills Independent Theatre. The building was converted to squash courts in the early 1960s.”

CUNT? “When in the 1990s the English higher education system decided that all polytechnics should become universities the Newcastle Poly decided to call itself the City University of Newcastle upon Tyne — until, at the last minute (sadly!) it became Northumbria University.”

FUCKS? “As a former member of the Flinders University Canoe and Kayak Society, I often wonder what happened to those T-shirts that proclaimed: ‘Do you need FUCKS — FUCKS needs you’.”

IDS? “At the height of the 1990s recession,Victoria had a Department of Industry and Economic Planning — DIEP, pronounced DEEP — immediately referred throughout the service as In Deep Shit. Name was changed to Manufacturing and industry development or similar.”

COUGH? “Some NSW schools were campaigning for the removal of those unflued gas heaters in classrooms due to the release of fumes in the room.  This lead to the appropriately named Campaign Opposed to Unflued Gas Heaters.”

ANUS? “The Australian National University solar research group proposed ANU Solar in honour of a much-despised DVC-Research. The idea was enthusiastically supported until a sour admin staff gave it the long drop.”

ANAHL? “For years the new CSIRO animal testing lab was referred to as the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory. I remember the snickering in the media when the powers that be realised their mistake and changed the name to Australian Animal Health Laboratory in the mid-’80s.”

TITS? “Back in the early 1980s in Perth, the Aboriginal Employment Branch of the then Commonwealth Department of Employment and Youth Affairs, for whom I then worked, was responsible for something called the ‘Tourism Industry Training Scheme’.”

Amazing work, all of you. Now enough already.

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Peter Fray

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