From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

DFAT and AusAID: a difficult marriage. The tricky process of integrating AusAID and the Department of Foreign Affairs continues, with mixed results. Public service spies tell Crikey that while some sections have integrated well, others are less happy. The integration taskforce runs regular briefings so that staff at DFAT Barton can learn about aid and development issues, and staff at DFAT Civic (the “AusAID” moniker has been banned) can learn about foreign policy and trade issues.

At a recent development 101 session, the DFAT Barton staff seemed bemused by the administrative burden imposed on DFAT Civic staff. One questioner reportedly asked: “How much of your budget is actually spent on aid?” The answer: “We can’t specify, but as an exercise, we looked at the World Bank meeting in New York. This was a very important meeting, with as many as 20 bilats and a great chance to make an impact on World Bank decisions … blah blah blah … 285 staff days to prepare the briefings.” As the audience gasped in disbelief, he added: “And 40% was in clearance time.” Our aid dollars at work.

Meanwhile, we’re told AusAID staff get a $400 “healthy living” allowance per year for bikes, gym membership, etc. “Makes up for DFAT staff getting a better overtime allowance — because we actually have to work overtime,” a mole reports.

A Hottest 100 party in the nude. Elsewhere in Canberra … The music is pumping, the drinks are flowing (in moderation), the food is on and the clothes are off. The ACT nudist club is making it known that Triple J’s Hottest 100 is set to be the centrepiece attraction of late-January nudist attractions in the capital territory. To come one simply needs to bring a towel to sit on and $5 for entry; in this case no shoes, no shirt does not mean no service. Entirely to the contrary.

People should be ready to bare it all in one of the more interesting places for a Hottest 100 party this side of Das Basement in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Clothes are not optional, but if the weather turns there’s always a heater and sauna or Hottest 100 Twister set. It’s billed as an all-ages, family-friendly event, with music, food and a pool. Pets must be kept on a leash, and no weapons or glass is allowed on site.

A cold night for Bishop in DC. Speaking of parties, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is expected to face a chilly reception at an Australian embassy knees-up in Washington …

The ABC’s DC correspondent reports there’s a big snow storm expected, and while there was no specific mention of snow boots, the embassy “wants guests to know the reception goes on — no matter the weather”. We hope Bishop packed the thermals.

Queensland whistleblowers: watch your back. “Never willingly give information to the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission,” says one anonymous tipster. “Quick way to lose your life.” We’re not sure what that’s about, but we’re pretty concerned …

Hard to cancel a subscription. We’re not suggesting newspaper publishers are rorting circulation — certainly not. But some of them keep sending papers to people who don’t want them. An Adelaide correspondent writes:

“I was a subscriber to The Sunday Mail in Adelaide for all of about three months before I cancelled, yet the papers kept arriving. I rang and confirmed cancellation twice more, all while the papers kept arriving. Eventually I gave up, so I kept collecting the free paper each week off my lawn as I wasn’t being charged.”

And from Sydney:

“I moved four months ago and asked The Sydney Morning Herald to change the delivery address. My Herald is still being delivered to both addresses despite calls to the subscription department and promises to fix it. No wonder they’re going broke.”

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

Peter Fray

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