From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours … Culture cuts: budget woes in Canberra. Canberra's cultural sector public servants woke to a chill wind this morning as reports said tomorrow's federal budget would merge back-office functions of agencies that employ 2200 public servants. The assistant director-general of Australian Collections and Reader Services at the National Library of Australia, Margy Burn, wrote to staff in an email this morning saying that "the devil will be in the detail as to how this is implemented". This reflects the trepidation felt among staff at the other cultural agencies in Canberra's "parliamentary triangle". These include the Australian War Memorial, Old Parliament House, the National Film and Sound Archive, The National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Archives. Institutions outside Canberra include Screen Australia (targeted by the National Audit Commission) and the Australian Film and Television School. The heads of Canberra's cultural institutions are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the mergers but are already fearing the worse. Some of these bodies already share IT and payroll systems and staff are fearful as to what "back office functions" means. "Does that mean, curators, researchers, librarians? Where does it begin and end?" one staff representative told Crikey. In the meantime, some are hoping their good behaviour will save them them from too much blood letting. Burn told her staff at the National Library:
"The Library (is) generally regarded as high performing (no Dancing Shiva scandal; not in the papers over job losses, as NFSA (National Film and Sound Archive) has been, not facing a deficit at June 30) we are as well positioned as we can be re 'shared services' in this time of uncertainty. So please do what you can to reassure staff who may wonder what this means for us."
ACT Young Labor a blokey affair. This from a Canberra type ...
"A few rumblings in ACT Young Labor about affirmative action and the president preselection. Apparently it's been some years of males."
We checked and yes, it looks like it's been male presidents back to 2011, then we lost the trail. AYL ACT recently had its AGM and re-elected president Michael Pettersson for a second term. Is it time a woman had a turn? Of course, the Chief Minister of the ACT is Labor's Katy Gallagher -- the only female prime minister, premier or chief minister in Australia at the moment. So we have to give ACT Labor some kudos for giving women a go ... Papers to fold? This from a Sydney source:
"My newsagent in Sydney's inner west this weekend casually mentioned that Fairfax is thinking of combining The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review as a cost-cutting measure. Presumably this would also see the AFR merged with the Melbourne Age? No word on timing, or if it will move forward and become a reality. The finance sections of both papers have been effectively merged. Could they do property next, or go the whole hog?"
It may be that the newsagent read this story in The Australian on Saturday, which claimed that Fairfax had commissioned a report from consultants that recommended scrapping the print editions of the AFR Weekend (a weighty tome with good journalism that no one seems to read) and The Sun Herald (the Sunday edition of The Sydney Morning Herald). We can't quite see how the AFR and the SMH could be "combined", although that may refer to more copy-sharing across various sections of each paper. Insiders can shed some light on the papers' future here. Tassie politics a small world. Last week Ms Tips let you know that quite a chunk of Tasmania's lower house is related to, or in a relationship with (hopefully not both), another parliamentarian or former parliamentarian. We gave you a list, and a historically minded reader pointed out that we missed one:
"In your list of Tasmanian politicians related to other politicians, you missed Madeleine Ogilvie. Hers is a famous Tasmanian political family. Her grandfather was a member and her great-uncle a premier."
That's correct -- the Labor MHA is from a political dynasty. That takes us to a grand total of eight out of 25 MHAs who are in a political family or couple. And new Liberal Premier Will Hodgman is related to two -- his late (and effervescent) father Michael was a prominent MP, and uncle Peter was a state MHA (who narrowly missed out on getting back to Parliament at the recent state election). Phew. Small world in Tassie, huh? Tory earrings. Ms Tips can't help liking NZ PM John Key. Here he is drumming up support for his National Party in a creative way ... it's hard to imagine Tony Abbott getting into the spirit of Lucas' gesture like this. And who knew Wellington even had an airport?

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