From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Who’ll greet Wills and Kate? The big question from the resignation of New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell this morning: who’ll meet the royals? Technically, O’Farrell remains premier until next week when a party meeting will be called to decide a successor. But will O’Farrell, who took no questions this morning, show up to join the Prime Minister, Governor-General and NSW Governor to welcome William and Kate to Sydney this afternoon? He was due to make a speech at the Opera House function tonight, where 400 guests will be whispering about who the next premier will be …

Missing: one Margie Abbott. A reader wondered where our First Lady was on Tony’s recent grand tour of Asia. Abbott toured Japan, South Korea and China with 600-odd business people and state premiers, signing free-trade deals all over the place. Our reader asked:

“Where’s Margie? Don’t most PMs’ spouses travel with same?”

We’ve looked into it and no, Margie did not accompany her husband on this tour — but she has gone on previous trips with him, e.g. on his first overseas trip as leader, which was to Indonesia (she got a 19-gun salute, laid a wreath, etc). PMs’ partners often do go on major state visits (to put more a social and more human face on a visit, to make for more interesting photographs, and to help build a relationship with other leaders and their partners). But not every time. A Daily Telegraph journo calculated that John Howard went on 77 trips overseas as PM, and wife Janette went on 56 of them. Julia Gillard’s partner, Tim Mathieson, went on some overseas trips but a lower proportion than the jetsetting Mrs Howard.

It may well be that Margie Abbott doesn’t enjoy the pomp, tedium and business of formal state visits — and if so, who can blame her?

Mike Smith meets Mike Smith. Attendees at the launch of ANZ’s BlueNotes media project were highly amused when bank CEO Mike Smith spent most of the evening talking to his identically named counterpart at The Australian Financial Review, Chanticleer columnist Mike … you get it. There were happy snaps aplenty of the two gentlemen hobnobbing at ANZ’s Docklands HQ in Melbourne …

Other media luminaries attending the launch were former BRW senior journalist Leo D’Angelo Fisher, Banking Day‘s Ian Rogers, Mumbrella‘s Tim Burrowes and The Australian‘s Richard Gluyas (also BlueNotes associate editor Amanda Gome’s husband). Our spy can report that the grog was flowing and the canapes were plentiful. As BlueNotes managing editor Andrew Cornell put it, it was a nicer spread than what Fairfax generally puts on … here in the Crikey bunker we had an Easter egg hunt this morning, so we were spoiled.

Pollies go vego. In an earlier Tip this week we noted Rupert Murdoch celebrating Bill Clinton’s alleged ditching of his vegan diet (“we all need a little red meat,” Rupert advised). We asked you if any Australian politicians are vegetarian or vegan, and we’ve heard back that federal Labor rising star Mark Butler is vegetarian, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon is vegan, and Victorian Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik is a vego. Will they be taking Rupert’s advice?

CBA #fail. Yesterday we got a tip-off just before Crikey’s deadline about problems at the Commonwealth Bank, which we alerted you to pronto. Seems like it was a hardware failure that brought most of the CBA’s network down. Some readers were not impressed …

“In my opinion the technical problems at CBA started on Sunday night, when a service station informed me that I had insufficient funds to pay for my purchases. I knew this to be false because earlier that day I had done quite a bit of internet banking. When I got home I phoned the 24-hour line and, after punching in all the info they required, was told that they would be unable to take my call.”

Another reader was left stranded:

“The CBA was indeed in chaos most of Tuesday. Net and phone banking were unavailable and Eftpos payments were also a casualty for many hours. In a Queensland country town with no CBA bank this was more than a bit difficult.”

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

Peter Fray

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