From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Sackwatch: comms gurus. We know times are tough in the federal bureaucracy, with redundancies and efficiency dividends coming from all directions. Is the axe about to be wielded at senior levels (that’s “EL”, or executive level, to you) at the federal Communications Department? This from a mole:

“Have been hearing rumours of a spill to be called in Canberra for the department of communications, with all EL staff having to apply for their jobs.”

We put that to a departmental spokesperson, who said:

“As indicated by the Secretary of the Department at the Senate Estimates hearing yesterday, he will address all staff within the next week on the future of staffing in the Department.  It would be inappropriate to pre-empt this address.”

So we’ll have to wait and see. If you know more, send us an email.

Careful what you post on Biz Spec: Business Spectator has always had a lively commenting community. But since it went behind a paywall, that’s largely died down. It’s not just the need to cough up that’s kept people away, though — could the fact that they can only comment under their full names be part of the problem? Tips was alerted to this fascinating comment posted on an item about Fairfax results last week:

“The Fairfax saga is becoming sadly Monty Pythonesque. More limbs hacked, blood flowing, but don’t worry…

“Next to come is the conversion of Saturday metro editions to tabloid size. Despite the claims otherwise, newspaper experience is that display revenue will be lost in the conversion from broadsheet to tabloid, and the Saturday editions, because of their sales figures and readership, carry more display pages than weekday copies. Yes, there will be newsprint savings, and the proposed sales of the Sydney and Melbourne press sites will yield substantial one-off benefits. But printing The Age, at Ballarat, in particular must also affect deadlines for it and for at least two strong regional newspapers, the Ballarat Courier and the Bendigo Advertiser. Some editions will have to have earlier cut-offs for editorial. This combined with the already apparent loss of editorial quality, will help drive more readers on-line for a lower yield, and where advertisers will follow. While I initially referred to that famous Monty Python skit, at this stage its becomes more like Catch 22: So it goes.
Former Newspaperman.”

Despite the signoff, the comment shows up as having been made by a “Judith Whish-Wilson”. The last name rings a bell. Could it have something to do with Lloyd Whish-Wilson, former Fairfax Media publisher and chief executive? We have no evidence of that, but a quick squiz through the phone book reveals a Judith and Lloyd Clarence Whish-Wilson living in Queensland. Conspiracy theories aside, it’s most likely that Whish-Wilson — whoever he or she is — simply didn’t realise his or her full name would be displayed.

Could Queensland’s doctors go on strike? Queensland’s doctors appear to be in rather a huff about new contracts they’re being “pressured to sign” that strip away employment protections. “Industrial action looms,” our tipster reckons. While a doctors’ strike is something we’ll have to wait and see on, a quick squiz at the Queensland AMA’s website does reveal a steady stream of increasingly unhappy media releases about employment contracts being put in front of senior medical officers at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. The AMA is urging doctors to reject the contracts. “The contracts are an insult to the professionalism and dedication of hardworking doctors,” AMA  president Dr Steve Hambleton said earlier this month.

Qantas credit union responds. It’s been a very bad day for Qantas, but we still managed to hear back from a spokesman for the Qantas Credit Union to a tip we ran yesterday, from a spy grumbling about the credit union sponsoring the Sydney Entertainment Centre (it’s slated for demolition).

The spokesman said Qantas Credit Union was not a non-profit organisation, it was not formed just for the benefit of employees (others are members, too), and the Entertainment Centre would not be demolished for “two full years”. He said the cost of the sponsorship was “considerably less” than the “couple of million dollars” our tipster claimed, and would only add a marginal increase to marketing costs. “The reason is that we have diverted expenditure from other initiatives into this naming rights sponsorship,” he said.

The spokesman said the sponsorship deal was approved by the board but not put to the full membership. And his response to the claim of wasted money was:

“We believe the cost will prove to be less than the additional revenue to be generated by the increased awareness and presence of our brand in the market place, which in turn will generate additional loans and deposits over and above that which we are accustomed to. In this regard, we believe the naming rights sponsorship will be very much  in the interests of all Qantas Credit Union Members, both now and into the future.”

Sadly, there was no comment on our mole’s Dolly Parton claim (inform yourself here).

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