From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Building Authority exec shake-out? Something went down at the Victorian Building Authority on Friday involving senior management. But of course being a public holiday in Melbourne we couldn’t get any answers today. Stay tuned — and let us know if you have more …

Buswell has drinks, crashes car, takes leave. Last week we tiptoed around the rather odd news that Western Australia’s scandal-plagued Treasurer Troy Buswell had mysteriously taken two to three weeks of “health-related” leave just two months before handing down the budget, along with his chief of staff Rachael Turnseck. We now learn, via the The West Australian today, that Buswell was involved in a nasty car crash on February 23 — the day before his leave commenced — after a drunken wedding reception in Perth. Premier Colin Barnett was due to make a statement as Crikey hit deadline — the chair-sniffing Treasurer’s future as a minister once again seems doomed …

Security isn’t tight at KL airport. As the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 continues, one Crikey frequent flyer was reminded that security at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (where the doomed flight departed) is worryingly lax:

“I fly regularly through KL (two to three times a month) to/from Singapore. There is NO effective personal exit security screening at this airport. I have regularly watched the bag check operators as they completely ignore the screens as hand baggage is progressing through the X-ray scanner. This is prevalent through both central and gate screening processes. I have deliberately left laptop/iPad/liquids in hand baggage to see if it would be picked up to no avail. KL Security needs a major overhaul.”

… but Rupert has the answers. Confirms, Rupert? Really? You should read your own newspapers; even the most scandalous wouldn’t dare suggest such a thing with no evidence …

Aussies held in Syria? On Friday we tipped that 12 Australians captured by the Syrian army in East Damascus last week were possibly being held by Syrian intelligence agencies. We’ve since heard from the Attorney-General’s Department, who would only tell us this: “Members of the public who have information on Australians being detained in Syria they should provide it to relevant authorities.”

The department also told us it was “illegal under Australian law for any Australian, including dual citizens, to fight, provide funding, provide training, or supply weapons to either side of the conflict in Syria”. So our tip may be incorrect — or it may be the first AGD’s has heard of it.

Seven’s data strike: remember Nine’s attempt? The Seven Network released a statement this morning announcing the appointment of David Miller, who will lead the company’s data business. Seven West Media is, it boasts, well advanced in building and testing new data capabilities and is already delivering strong results:

“Seven West Media is partnering with Acxiom, a leading global data company to build the data analytic capabilities that will allow Seven West Media to develop a market-leading data-led approach to its businesses and to create one-on-one communications with its audiences across its broadcasting, publishing and online platforms and through new digital delivery platforms including desktop, mobile, tablets and the forthcoming launch of Hybrid Broadband Broadcast Television.”

What wasn’t in the statement is that, more than 15 years ago, Acxiom partnered with Kerry Packer’s PBL to do the same thing, without much in the way of results. And the man running that business for Packer was Andrew Robb, now the federal Trade Minister. Robb was a senior executive of PBL from 1997 to 1999, and his blog says he was Acxiom CEO in 1999-2001 and then chairman until 2004. By June 2002, PBL had sold its share in the ailing JV back to Acxiom.

Dad bags son’s paper, son hits back. How’s this for irony: in Saturday’s Weekend Australian Financial Review, a feature splash on “Reviving Fairfax” by James Chessell and Jake Mitchell. The latter’s father is Chris Mitchell, the combative editor-in-chief of The Australian and the man who oversaw the recent nasty editorial in the Oz that bagged AFR editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury. Wonder what the Sunday dinner conversation is like?

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

Peter Fray

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