From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Qantas strife no 438. With Alan Joyce’s axe falling yesterday on 5000 staff, international cabin crew were left hanging when the scheduled conference call to advise them of the decision did not work:

“11.30am call failed due technical difficulties, so they emailed details of 1pm call with new password. New password not accepted and that conference call consequently failed as well. Bear in mind that staff were calling from all over the world to see if they still had a job. 2pm now, and still no information.”

We’ve also heard the Qantas “just closed the cabin crew base in Cairns resulting in over 100 people losing their jobs,” and from another mole we got this tip:

“Qantas has spent considerable money splitting its business into Domestic, International & Jetstar, all with their own CEOs, Chief Pilots and management. Now, at the gravy stroke of gaining separate Air Operator Certificates, Alan Joyce has done a U-turn on this strategy and the AOC application has been shelved.”

Howe’s that. Herald Sun executive editor and columnist Alan Howe is leaving the company after a long innings. He’s sent around a statement saying “it’s been a thrilling 35 years. But it is time to see what life is like on the outside.” The British-born veteran has earned the ire of some readers over the years and critics have accused him of being anti-Arab. But then if you’re writing opinion and no one’s complaining, you’re pretty boring, aren’t you.

Tassie dolphin mystery. If you’re worried about Japan hunting whales and dolphins, perhaps you should look closer to home for problems. This tip-off is from a southern spy:

“Two dolphins 10 days apart have washed up on Tasmanian beaches with their tails cut off. The last one was a baby dolphin, this is too much of a grisly coincidence. There is a horrible mystery here.”

The ABC reported on one of the cases on February 11, when a dead dolphin with its tail cut off washed off at Eaglehawk Neck. This prompted a warning from Premier Lara Giddings for recreational fishers to take more care with their nets, the theory being the dolphin got caught in a fishing net, drowned, and had its tail cut off to get rid of the corpse. We’re trying to find out more about the cases.

O-week shock. Ms Tips hit up O-week (that’s orientation week to you) clubs and societies day at the University of Melbourne yesterday and was shocked to her core to see a) no beer and b) no barbecue sausages. The event was full of fresh-faced kids sipping small cans of low-joule soft drink as they signed up to the computer science association and received a free USB. Uni veterans like Ms Tips remember when tertiary education was a lot more fun.

Hinch leaving the big house. Looks like broadcast loudmouth Derryn Hinch is gearing up to leave prison (at least we assume that’s what he’s referring to in this tweet). He’s serving 50 days for refusing to pay a fine relating to breaching a suppression order in the Jill Meagher murder case. That’s not the royal “we”, it’s his assistant tweeting on his behalf. We look forward to hearing more from Derryn on doing time …

Job losses: look to rural NSW. Yesterday we attempted a tally of the job losses across the country over the last three months. Of course, there are many more. One Crikey correspondent in central-west New South Wales pointed us to significant retrenchments at Simplot and EDI Downer in Bathurst, Electrolux in Orange and the Windsor cannery at Cowra. “Bloody disaster out here too,” they report, “and not a federal or state finger lifted to save them.”

Tough times for G4S. With British security firm G4S in the headlines lately, and Crikey giving you the background to the firm in charge of the Manus Island boat people detention centre (where Reza Berati died in tragic circumstances recently), we thought you’d be interested in this graffiti at the company’s Melbourne office. 3AW got the pic:

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

Peter Fray

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