From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Trouble at the CBA? As Crikey’s deadline loomed today, we heard reports of problems with the Commonwealth Bank’s electronic banking system. And have you been able to get through to a CBA call centre today? We’ll look into it and keep you posted.

Hitchcock with showgirls. Here’s something to really send a shiver down the spines of Alfred Hitchcock fans: a musical version of North By Northwest. And if it really bombs, it seems it will be Australia’s fault. We’ve heard music theatre directing maestro Simon Phillips — he took Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to Broadway and tried valiantly to save Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies — is cooking up a stage version in workshops in Brisbane. Theatre buffs had heard he was working with Aussie theatre tycoon John Frost on a musical version of the film First Wives Club, so this Hitchcockian turn will be news to most. We’re eagerly anticipating the re-creation of the crop-dusting scene …

Digital signs point to trouble. A nasty dispute is brewing between Costa Koulis, inventor of the world’s first digital real estate signboard — a weatherproof, remotely updatable LCD screen sitting on your front lawn, to replace the traditional wooden board — and outdoor advertising guru and former APN director Pierce Cody. Koulis was the founder of Live Board Holdings, the owner of the patent, whose board Cody joined in late 2012. Cody was there to help Live Board raise money, but things turned sour last September after a preferential share issue diluted Koulis’ stake and he lost control of his company.

The New South Wales Supreme Court found the share issue breached the Live Board constitution, and Koulis is now pursuing an unspecified damages claim, as he posted on his blog. Cody and his fellow directors put Live Board into voluntary administration, but the business is now up and trading again as Cody Live, which bought the intellectual property from the Live Board administrators. A lawyer for Cody told Crikey that the appointment of the administrators, and their proposal to sell Live Board Holdings’ assets, was canvassed and approved by the NSW Supreme Court.

ABC radio changes? We’ve heard a whisper of a management shakeup at ABC radio. Stay tuned to this station …

Arts cuts bite in Queensland … Queensland’s peak advocacy and funding body for youth arts will shut up shop later this month after 25 years of operation. Youth Arts Queensland was one of many organisations that failed to secure funding last year after the Newman government slashed the state’s arts budget by more than $12 million. In the final email newsletter from the organisation, YAQ chair Steven Maxwell said:

“There may come a time in the future when something like YAQ emerges to continue the good work, but until then I encourage our young artists and youth arts organisations to come together as often as possible to support each other, to share our stories and to work for the future of Arts in Queensland.”

It’s not the first arts-related casualty of the Newman government — the Premier’s Literary Awards were abolished in 2012, and dozens of jobs have been lost at the Queensland Art Gallery and Queensland Museum. Queensland’s artists might have to move south …

… but you could restore their funding. After claiming the state is in debt to the tune of $80 billion, Queensland’s Newman government has thrown the ball into the court of the people with its so-called “Strong Choices” campaign. Unable to decide which path of action would best suit the state’s economic situation, the government is now asking the people affected the most — Queenslanders — with this online questionnaire, which keeps track of what you’d spend/save money on and calculates your bottom line.

By electing to either raise taxes, cut jobs or sell state assets, the average citizen can save the government from money troubles. Keep in mind, however, that this new interactive gizmo — which looks like a poll, reads like a poll and essentially polls voters — is not actually a poll, according to the government. It’s simply a survey that will create “broad results” on May 19, ahead of the budget on June 3. There are a few interesting options on there …

Any reader with a secret love of budgets and a lust for power can have a go. Ms Tips spent three minutes on it and slashed debt by $43 billion — without cutting services to the public. Pretty easy, huh? And yes, we know there is a case for running deficits, and the dumbed-down quest for surpluses can be misguided — but this is fun.

Seeking Serco moles. We were very interested to see the running of Australia’s onshore immigration detention centres is up for tender, meaning UK services giant Serco could lose the gig. The last tender was worth a cool $3 billion, so it’ll be interested to hear if anyone else bids — maybe Transfield? Immigration moles can pass on any information via this anonymous link.

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

Peter Fray

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