From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Axe to fall at Leighton? We received this Spanish-flavoured tip about job losses at construction giant Leighton:

“Leighton’s Spanish management about to sack 1000 more workers. A senior manager at Leighton has been moaning — as one would — about this.”

This may well come to pass. There have been rumours about job losses at Leighton (a Sydney-based contracting firm involved in construction, mining and engineering, both here and overseas). The Spanish link is that Marcelino Fernandez Verdes has just taken over as Leighton chief. He was formerly with Hochtief, which is trying to increase its stake in Leighton. And that’s set the hares running, because Hochieff’s bidding statement (consider it as asking someone on a date) said this, two weeks ago:

“HOCHTIEF considers Leighton’s employees to be an integral part of Leighton’s operations. However, as a result of the general review by Leighton already underway, some employees may become redundant …”

Verdes has also said he’s overseeing a general review of Leighton that may end in changes to operations, and “changes in the number and functions of employees required in each operating unit and the possible divestment of certain assets or businesses”. And when do reviews ever lead to jobs being created?

Sounds like malas noticias for the folk at Leighton. We’ve put the tip to Leighton, who directed us to previous media statements about possible redundancies.

Have you or someone you know been sacked? Let us know at [email protected] with the subject line “Sackwatch”.

Qantas turbulence. Qantas can’t have been an easy place to work of late, what with Alan Joyce reporting a loss and keen to sack lots of people. We’ve heard that some cabin crew are feeling harassed by management and “a number of the senior ones are walking — a management dream as it costs nothing and they will get their KPI bonuses”. Apparently there’s a fair bit of ill-feeling towards Joyce (not exactly surprising). It’s a pity if Qantas’ senior cabin staff are walking; it was a positive point of difference that unlike other airlines we could name, Qantas did not just hire good-looking 23-year-olds who looked like they spent all their time on their hair and wouldn’t be much help in an emergency. Give us an experienced, mature-aged flight attendant any day.

‘Sports’ jocks under fire. On Friday Tips brought you a Facebook post from the Australian “Sports” Party, which is running in the WA Senate recount this Saturday (and which won a seat in one of the previous recounts). The post features a picture of a topless woman jogging and a joke about men only doing exercise if they get to bonk sexy young women, while being terrified of gay men. Nice.

Since our tip, it’s become clear that not everyone likes the joke. A women’s group has called on the party to apologise, and more than 150 people have have commented on the post, most of them critical. “Sure it’s a joke. But this is a Facebook page for a political party, not your mate Dazza,” said one person. “You’d have to be a real dropulich to vote for the Australian Sports Party. This post reads more like an advertisement for the Playboy Mansion. Pathetic really,” said another.

There’s also a claim posted on the party’s Facebook page that the party has been censoring comments critical of the gag from the main page (we certainly couldn’t see many). The post is still live, and there’s been no apology, so yes, this is what the Australian Sports Party is all about.

Trouble in the Victorian ALP? As Victorian politics heats up — an election is coming in November and Labor are a real chance to unseat the Liberal government — this comes from a mole:

“The gay group within the Victorian ALP is plagued by issues, with many members claiming they never received a call for nominations for the recent election of the state executive. The nominations closed well before many members knew it was even open. Then a factional deal was taken to select the executive without the need of a vote.”

Whitewashing Williamson. This comes from a reader about the sentencing of disgraced HSU heavy Michael Williamson on Friday:

“The Fairfax media and our ABC are apparently unaware that convicted fraudster Michael Williamson was federal Labor Party president 2009-2010, president of Unions NSW until 2012, and a longstanding board member of  the ACTU. A notable omission, given the blanket coverage of Liberal MP Arthur Sinodinos appearing as a witness before ICAC with the commissioner indicating no adverse finding is likely against him. Fair and balanced coverage?”

Yes, Williamson was national president of the ALP in 2009-10 and held other roles within the ALP and the ACTU (he seems to have been vice-president of Unions NSW, for the record) — so he was more than just a HSU chief. And yes, he was national ALP president for some of the time he was receiving fraudulent payments. So yes, that probably should be mentioned. This ABC story from Friday mentions the ALP links, as does this story from The Australian (of course). This SMH story does not. We’re not sure it’s a pro-Labor conspiracy, but if you didn’t know about Williamson’s role at the ALP, you do now.

Autumn sounds. Ah, autumn — the leaves turning golden, the smoke in the air, the chill in the dawn, and the annoying roar of leaf blowers destroying the serenity. Some of our most-respected reporters at Canberra’s Parliament House indulged in leaf blower rage this morning — this is The Australian’s David Crowe and Fairfax’s James Massola:

Is it really so hard for council workers to use a broom, or, as plan B, let the leaves stay on the ground? We’re interested in what our readers think about leaf blowers — post your view in our comments thread online. If there’s sufficient rage we’ll consider a petition up on Take that, world!

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

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey