From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Melbourne Uni not in love with Mirabella. Liberal seat-loser Sophie Mirabella has been appointed a public policy fellow at the University of Melbourne, and some staff aren’t too happy about it. According to an anonymous tipster, it’s not because she’s conservative, but because “they are wondering why someone who is known as very unpleasant to work with and will not contribute to research in any way has been appointed”. Apparently there was a staff meeting last week where the subject was brought up.

Meanwhile, the Campus Refugee Rights Group at Melbourne Uni is planning a “speak out” at 1pm today against the appointment. The Facebook group organising the protest boldly states:

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“Melbourne Uni students should oppose being taught by fear-mongers with xenophobic attitudes towards refugees and ethnic minorities. Universities should employ lecturers who value tolerance and racial diversity rather than scapegoating and racism …”

Well. Melbourne University is far from the first to appoint former Coalition politicians to its ranks — such appointments can be a boon to the university’s profile and can help with fundraising if a former politician is generous with his or her contact book. However, such appointments are often controversial on campus.

End to China bureau? According to a well-placed tipster The Australian Financial Review plans to close its last remaining Asian bureau, which is in financial hub Shanghai, after correspondents Angus Grigg and Lisa Murray finish their postings. According to our source, editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury tried to offer the job to star reporter Nabila Ahmed last year to stop her from leaving but a decision to close the bureau made from higher up stopped that play in its tracks. We put the tip to Stutch, who told us there was “absolutely nothing” in it.

Another Fin insider told us it would be strange for the bureau to close, given China is such a key part of the Fin’s coverage. “Having said that, nothing should surprise me in relation to the AFR,” the insider added. It’s worth noting that Fairfax does still have Asian bureaux and the Fin can use its copy …

Qantas is awfully sorry for delays. Is Qantas picking up its customer service game? A Crikey staffer delayed by an hour in storm-hit Brisbane on Sunday received this email from the besieged airline’s manager of domestic customer care, Dean Colton, on Monday afternoon:

“Please accept my sincere apologies for the cancellation of your flight QF631 from Brisbane yesterday … We understand the inconvenience this may have caused you, so your patience and understanding throughout this situation has truly been appreciated.”

Your correspondent would have preferred prior warning of the cancellation with a text message so he didn’t have to hurry so much. But the unusually grovelling apology was appreciated. Is this now standard practice …?

The great firewall of the APS.  With public servants being encouraged to dob in their tweeting colleagues and official department Twitter accounts being used to intimidate citizens, it should come as no surprise that internet access is severely restricted on some APS computers. A Crikey subscriber tried to access at work, and came up against a departmental firewall (incriminating details have been blacked out):

Another Defence Department mole says the internet is very strictly controlled within the department — even the websites of some of the department’s own social and activity groups don’t make the cut. Says the mole:

“If I had to guess [why the site is blocked], it might be because Crikey subscribers can comment on the stories and that presents a risk. Pretty much any site that allows people to upload content is banned, including webmail sites, forums, lots of news sites, etc. Nearly everyone will bring an internet dongle or use their personal phones as hotspots when they need to access something that’s not accessible on a networked machine.”

Is Crikey blocked at your workplace? Let us know. In the meantime, reading the daily Crikey Insider email is the best way to get around those pesky work firewalls.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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