From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

IT meltdown gives ATO headaches. We’re told the Australian Tax Office is in the process of contacting thousands of taxpayers because the ATO’s data-matching systems didn’t get reports from Medibank Private when clients moved to another fund during the financial year. Our spy says the problems go back as far as 2011:

“I have no idea how much this is costing the Australian government to follow up individual taxpayers needlessly. If federal government is serious about cost saving why not require Medibank Private, itself a federal government agency, to report to the ATO accurately? The IT issues at Medibank Private are legendary — I cannot imagine how it can be privatised in its current state.”

An interesting insight with the government mulling a sale. We asked the ATO to confirm but didn’t hear back by deadline. Have you heard anything from either camp? Drop us line or use the anonymous form on the website.

Sparks fly at Tecoma Maccas. There’s a heatwave across parts of Australia, but nothing will stop the burgers at the disputed Tecoma site in Victoria. One spy reports:

“It appears laws do not apply to the McDonald’s corporation with the rush to open the disputed Tecoma store. We are faced with the most sustained heat wave since Black Saturday and this corporation are so determined to push their hamburgers on us that they are using drop saws to cut metal in the open. I saw sparks flying myself as did several of the protesters who had been on site since 6am.”

Talk not cheap at bureaucrat conference. As Tony Abbott considers where to dispatch the razor gang, perhaps he should start at all those conferences public servants like to attend. A Crikey reader pointed us to one example — the annual National Public Sector Communication Officers’ Conference 2014 — to be held in Canberra in April. To hear a stellar line-up of speakers across the two-day conference and attend a day-long masterclass on “designing, implementing and assessing best practise integrated communication strategies in the public sector”, departments will shell out about $3300 for every spinner they send. Is that money well spent?

Greenies have friends in Qld department. A worker in Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection insists managers have blocked staff from accessing the Australian Conservation Foundation website because the content is “inappropriate”. We rang a spinner there, and he pulled it up on his government-sanctioned computer just fine (and even promised to donate to the organisation). So we’re not sure there’s much to that …

A Qantas whitewash. Someone on YouTube has got hold of the Qantas safety video and had some fun with a bit of racial profiling. Oddly, the world of Qantas doesn’t seem to reflect the world around them …

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

Peter Fray

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