From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Newspaper movements. Tips understands there’s a big consolidation play in the wind in the Australian regional newspaper market. Stay tuned.

Gillard delivers. Former PM Julia Gillard had been one busy woman … a gig as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, appointed to lead the Global Partnership for Education, a spiffy new home in Adelaide — and we understand she has already handed in the manuscript of her memoir to her publisher. Five stars for diligence.

WA’s missing Treasurer. Yesterday we asked why WA Treasurer Troy Buswell was on two to three weeks of personal leave, two months before the WA budget — and we reported a tip that  Buswell’s chief of staff Rachael Turnseck was also on leave. Shortly after Crikey’s deadline yesterday, Premier Colin Barnett issued a statement saying the reasons for Buswell’s leave were “health-related”. “Mr Buswell has requested privacy during this period,” Bartnett said (which is fair enough).

We had asked if Turnseck was also on leave; the response from Barnett’s office, again after our deadline, was “the movements of the Treasurer’s chief of staff are irrelevant to the preparation of the budget” (Perth media is now reporting that Turnseck is believed to be on leave). But the budget is on track, the Premier’s spokeswoman told us: “The budget process continues with the Premier as Acting Treasurer, and there will be no disruption.”

Abbott v the trees. Twitter has been afire in response to Tony Abbott’s pro-logging speech in Canberra last night. Sample Abbott quotes, “man and the environment are meant for each other” and “you intelligently make the most of the good things that God has given us” (to the forest industry crowd). We’re not sure, but it seems like The Australian’s cartoonist Jon Kudelka is having a bit of fun with Tony this morning …

Epicurists no more. We hear that The Age has decided to dump the Epicure name from its long-standing food section and rename it Good Food. Last time this was mooted, all hell broke loose within Melbourne’s tight foodie industry. This time, we’re told, there will be no correspondence entered into.

ABS to track own job cuts. Staff at the ABS arrived at work this morning to find this message on their computer screens when they logged on:

It’s part of sweeping redundancies across the public service, with most departments losing staff (some many more than this 70-100). We’re hearing stories that in some departments there are too many applications for redundancy, so some eager to leave are being knocked back, while in other departments redundos are undersubscribed. If you’re in the APS, tell us the inside story at your department — and you can use this anonymous form.

Tas-maniacs. We’ve had some interesting responses to yesterday’s Crikey story on the 10 most powerful people behind the scenes in Tasmanian politics, as the apple isle readies for the state election on March 15. Quite a few readers thought Liberal Senator Eric Abetz should have been at No. 1, not 11. We’ve also had a bid for Merrick Howes — who purchased Gunns’ debt via the Anchorage Capital Group — to make the list. This from another reader:

“From your Tassie power people you missed Don Challen. Don orchestrated where Tasmania is now through his role role as Head of Treasury leaving the financial gaping hole that is their energy market. He was described to me recently as ‘the smartest guy in the room’. This observation is apt given recent events. He still wields huge power through board memberships. The TSO was funded by companies for years based on his assessment of the cultural landscape and community of Tasmania.”

Certainly an interesting suggestion, but has Challen’s power waned since he left the gig as Treasury honcho? Another person suggested the man who previously held Challen’s role, Dr Mike Vertigan, who is involved in plenty of boards and is looked up to by some Tasmanians. If you’ve got a view, jump onto the comments section of the story and rewrite our list.

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