From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Wanted: FIFO caseworkers in PNG. Here’s an exciting opportunity … apparently. Fancy a trip to Manus Island to help deal with desperate asylum seekers? Sydney-based recruitment firm Julie Warner Health dispatched this missive — subject line: “Newsflash!! Caseworkers required to deliver services in PNG starting this Saturday!” — to its database yesterday morning …


Exciting opportunity just in!!

A dynamic international organisation is currently seeking 15-20 Caseworkers to fly out of Brisbane to Papau New Guinea this Saturday 22nd of Feb for 21 days. Yes, short notice I know, however those of you who like adventurous challenges … then get in touch ASAP! Due to the urgency of this, applications close by 4pm today!

You will be part of a multi-disciplinary team supporting existing services in an immigration facility. You will provide holistic support & play a critical role in the case management of people on the ground.

You will have experience in providing services in a hospital setting or to community groups.

Flights will be provided from your location to Brisbane, you will be provided with accommodation in Brisbane if required & will fly to PNG on Saturday.

You will be rewarded generously for this locum. If you have colleagues / friends who would jump at such an interesting role, please refer them to me.

To register your interest for this once in a life-time opportunity, please respond immediately to my email … to be first in line!

Don’t delay, press reply now!

Kind regards,

Emma Gough
Senior Recruitment Consultant

We’re told new workers are being flown in and out every three weeks. We contacted the firm to confirm these arrangements but didn’t get a response by deadline.

Mac Bank gets a spark. “Why is Macquarie Bank applying for a licence to sell electricity?” We’re not sure, anonymous tipster, but we’re going to need more information than that. Know more? Drop us a line or use the anonymous form on the website

Xenophon rejects Qantas’ VIP club. Yesterday, Crikey went inside the uber-exclusive Chairman’s Lounge at Qantas terminals around the country — the hand-picked club of business executives and MPs sectioned off from the plebs at the Qantas Club. We suggested most MPs were members, and that seems to be the case. But not independent Senator Nick Xenophon. A former Xenophon staffer writes:

“Nick Xenophon is one of the very rare pollies of recent times who knocked back membership to the Chairman’s Lounge. (He also insists on flying economy, and regularly flies Virgin.)  I remember the woman from Qantas ringing our electorate office a couple of times because she couldn’t understand why the invitation had been rejected. Obviously it had never happened to her before. She even thoughtfully explained to our staffer that we needed to explain to Nick that membership is free. I’m not sure she fully understood the nature of Nick’s objection. He saw it as a form of influence peddling.”

Xenophon has certainly been a strong critic of Qantas management in recent years — free of the conflict some of his colleagues obviously feel. “That’s the thing about bribes,” says our correspondent, “if you don’t take them, you are free to follow your conscience.”

Qantas food: pack a lunch. And then there’s the question of food. We reported yesterday of the decline in dining options on Qantas jets, and we got plenty of feedback. We must warn you: these stories are shocking …

“I had the same experience on two evening flights last week. Both times we were told ‘we will be serving dinner on this flight’ only to be handed a ham and lettuce sandwich.”

“Took a flight from Sydney to Melbourne yesterday with two kids and had deliberately booked Qantas at 11.30 so as to get lunch of some kind on the way home. At 12.15pm we were served with two sweet biscuits for ‘morning tea’. At least on the Virgin flight on the way up we had received a more substantial muesli bar and an apple!”

“On recent return flights between Perth and Melbourne the flavour of both meals was good (though not outstanding), but was severely let down by the poor quality of the meat. One was a Claypot-style Chicken with rice, while the other was a Lamb Biryani with spiced couscous. The chicken approached a reasonable quantity in the dish, but was mainly skin with small amounts of meat attached. The lamb however was barely even 20% of the dish, for which I was ultimately grateful as the consistency and shape reminded me of the refrigerated polony-style meat I chop into cubes and serve to my dogs.”

“The remarkably all male cabin crew served everyone in economy a chicken pie. No choice. They tried to sound enthusiastic, but it was no use. Served in a half-pie cardboard carton-ette, lots of creamy ‘stuff’ and bits of flayed chicken meat.”

“Going to Sydney, lunch was served in a cardboard box with a clear lid, with a plastic cutlery pack. No tray. The box offered a chicken salad on a bed of fashionable but boring quinoa things with a bit of onion as flavouring.  The chicken was formed into discs. Healthy, perhaps, but pretty tasteless. They don’t do a separate tea and coffee run any more; if you don’t ask first up with the meal service you miss out.  I’m sure cabin crew numbers are down.”

Quite the ordeals. But is Virgin really any better? The airline sent an email to its frequent flyer members last week declaring it was upping its ante in the snack game …

virgin snack

… but upon closer reflection it appears those economy travellers in the lowest fare class will have to buy their own muffins.

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

Peter Fray

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