From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Questions about Sir Obeid. Our eye was caught by this snippet in the coverage of Eddie Obeid’s appearance before ICAC yesterday:

“Giving evidence today, Mr Obeid, who was wearing his Order Of Australia medal, said he did not know his youngest son, Eddie Junior, worked for …”

There are various references on the net to Obeid wearing his medal, all sheeted home to an ABC report (the report itself now contains no reference to said medal). Obeid, of course, has been found to have acted corruptly by ICAC in relation to the granting of coal exploration licences (ICAC referred the matter to the DPP, and the ALP cancelled Obeid’s membership). Now, given that “appointments to the Order of Australia confer the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service”, should Obeid be stripped of his medal?

Here’s his citation:

To be fair, ICAC found Obeid certainly had contributed to ethnic welfare (namely, his own). Last July the SMH reported that Obeid could lose his Order of Australia; the Governor-General can cancel it if a tribunal “made a finding that is adverse to the holder of the appointment or award” or a person were convicted of a crime. We’ve asked Sir Peter, via Government House, if he’ll take Obeid’s award away. Stay tuned.

Lean times at AAP. We’re hearing grumbles from some of the hardest-working journalists in the country, those at Australian Associated Press (AAP). More than 200 journos work there, pumping out reams of copy for the web and the papers. AAP cut 23 staff last June and about 12 the year before, so like everywhere in the media, times are tough. Now we’ve seen what the company is offering staff — via head honcho Tony Gillies (hubby of television presenter Kylie Gillies) — under current EBA negotiations. Here are some key points from Gillies’ memo dated April 4:

  • ” … we tabled base salary increases of CPI less 0.5%, which is inclusive of any increases to superannuation legislation for the term of the agreement”.
  • create a new grading, 5B (i.e. you can promote a grade 5 journalist without having to pay a grade 6 wage)
  • remove “banding quotas” (a requirement that a certain proportion of staff be at a certain level, to avoid bunching staff on lower gradings)
  • cap automatic progression through the grades at grade 2; and
  • halve notice periods.

Wow. So that would effectively be a pay cut. And watch for that final point. At AAP, when staff are made redundant, it’s effective immediately and the company pays out the notice period — so that change could mean significantly lower redundo payments.

“Several journos are in shock with what the company has offered …  Just thought Crikey would be interested in what Gillies is offering at the salt mines of Oz journalism,” our mole told us. Mind you, this isn’t over yet, and the company may budge over time.

Labor Senator in trouble. As the count continues from Saturday’s WA Senate rerun, there’s bad news for Labor Senator Louise Pratt, who’s battling it out for the last seat with a Liberal candidate. Pratt is the articulate, hard-working sitting MP who was bumped from one to two on the ALP ticket to make way for right-leaning union heavyweight Joe Bullock (he’s comfortably won a seat). Here’s an update on the count from our own William Bowe from this morning:

“The addition of 11,138 out of what should be at least 90,000 postal votes has blown a hole in Labor’s hope that votes cast earlier in the piece will be relatively favourable for them, making a Louise Pratt victory look increasingly unlikely. With numbers reported from Brand, Curtin, Durack, Hasluck and Perth, the results respectively show the Liberal vote 11.1%, 11.1%, 10.3%, 13.4% and 9.6% higher than the ordinary vote, equalling or exceeding the similarly large differentials in September. Putting the raw votes into the ABC calculator previously showed Pratt in the lead, but now Linda Reynolds holds a lead of 3407 votes (0.26), or 188,421 (14.42%) to 185,014 (14.16%). On the model I’m using to fill the gaps in the count, Reynolds finishes 8499 (0.65%) clear with a lead of 190,963 (14.61%) to 182,474 (13.96%).”

Read the full post — and watch the results unfold — here.

PJs for Carr. Former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr has opened himself up to ridicule for his memoirs, out this week. We love this pearler about being forced to fly business class: “No edible food. No airline pyjamas. I lie in my tailored suit.” Well, Twitter came to the rescue within hours …

We just hope they’re the right size. Given Carr’s preferred breakfast of steel-cut oats and berries, he’d only need a small. In the meantime Ms Tips has heard from a gleeful spy who once shared a first-class cabin with Carr. Our spy was allotted the front row. Carr alighted, gazed at seat 1A, and said, “I usually have that seat”, with a light laugh (that wasn’t really a laugh). The spy reported that yes, he did don his Qantas pyjamas.

Guess who. A former premier is in this pic … who is it?

Here’s a clue. These are the finalists in the Lions Youth of the Year, gathered in Canberra in 1970. And our ex-premier had this comment about the pic: “If only I had that hair today.” Add your guess to our comments stream online. First correct answer wins a packet of Lions mints from the premier.

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

Peter Fray

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