From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

What’s happened to The RiotACT? It looks like The RiotACT, a popular and long-lived Canberra gossip website much loved by public servants, is in some trouble. The RiotACT has been around since 2000 and since then it’s launched countless troll wars and brought us many quirky Canberra tales (think spy tunnels under mysterious Canberra security buildings). Now this is appearing on ASIC’s website:

“External administration” means “administration, receivership and liquidation”. The page also shows this:

So is this the end for The RiotACT?

We knew the site, which is free and carries advertising, was troubled back in January when key writer and provocateur Johnboy (aka John Griffiths) got the sack. Here’s the man himself in a memorable Skywhale tribute hat:

At the time Johnboy posted: “I’ve been informed my services cannot be retained. A new buyer for the site is potentially in the wings and who knows what their plans will be?” In the comments stream, “Jazz” (aka RiotACT managing director Tim Hyde) said: “We’re trying to find a way that we can do to retain John and Barcham as i think they do a great job but the reality is that it costs us about $100,000 a year more than we make from advertising …”.

The site appears to have gone downhill somewhat since then, and the trolls have taken over. There are rumours it was sold. We’ve heard minor investors may have moved to liquidate the company to buy the assets from the liquidator. Here are some user comments from the last few days on the site’s future:

“Jazz told us yesterday that he doesn’t work here anymore, either.”

“So who is steering the ship? Is it going to get all ‘Lord of the Flies’ around here now?”

“I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see the whole site shut down in the near future. It was fun while it lasted.”

We’ll keep you posted. We’ve asked the site’s management for comment.

Qantas snouts in the trough? We heard this from an anonymous mole:

“Interesting that after Qantas executives Alan Joyce, Jayne Hrdlicka, Gareth Evans and Andrew Parker appeared before the Senate on Tuesday night crying poor and talking about how all in the Qantas ‘family’ had to tighten their belts to help the airline survive that they all managed to find enough cash to host quite a large dinner at one of Canberra’s most expensive restaurants immediately after their appearance — quite a few bottles of top-shelf wine were consumed before they and their large entourage bedded down for the night at the Hyatt. Not quite the same austerity measures that the rest of us at Qantas are now expected to abide by.”

But did they really live the high life? We put the tip to a Qantas spokesman, who responded:

“Like most Qantas rumours out there, this one is false. Qantas executives, including Alan Joyce, stayed at Rydges Hotel, not the Hyatt. They did eat dinner. It was not at ‘one of Canberra’s most expensive restaurants’ as suggested nor was expensive wine consumed.”

For non-Canberra types, the hotel is significant. The Hyatt is a posh place on Commonwealth Avenue, right near Parliament House. It’s a famous people’s pied-a-terre when they want to check out Parliament. But Rydges is a pretty standard joint in the CBD — so it sounds like the Qantas team were not in the lap of luxury.

We’d be intrigued to hear where Joyce and Co did have dinner and what wine (if any) was drunk. Was it the funky Chairman and Yip diner, perhaps? Looking at the Qantas books, they should have gone to Timmy’s Kitchen for egg fried rice. If you spotted the Qantas team dining, fill us in here.

Nervous flyers, tune out now. We’ve been running tips of late about how airlines censor out reports on airline disasters from inflight news. Not in the US, a reader told us:

“I flew United from Los Angeles to Newark [in New Jersey] on Monday and was surprised to see a lengthy report on MH370 on the news bulletin piped to all seats prior to takeoff. The following story was about a Delta aircraft which lost part of its wing during a flight on Sunday. Obviously the US doesn’t share the same sensitivity for nervous fliers.”

Ms Tips would have checked off the plane by then.

Protest: you be the judge.There’s been plenty of debate in the wake of March in March around political protests, how far they should go, and how they should be covered by the media. People protesting against a planned massive tunnel right underneath Melbourne (the East West Link) have circulated this video of protesters standing in the way of Premier Denis Napthine’s car yesterday. A protest spokesman said Napthine “directed his driver to ram through our protest! In the process he ran over one of the protesters (Toby Dite) foot and they had to be taken to hospital.”

We’ve looked at the video and it seems the protesters are trying to block Napthine from driving away, and in doing so they have put themselves in danger. What are politicians supposed to do in these circumstances? Watch the video for yourself, and feel free to post your opinion in our comments stream. Do the protesters go too far?

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

Peter Fray

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