From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Trouble out West. There’s a spot of trouble brewing in WA Labor (yes, they do exist). Mark McGowan is the state opposition leader, and polls actually show he’s doing not too badly. But the federal branch is struggling, winning just 22% of the primary vote in April’s half-Senate rerun caused by the AEC ballot stuff-up. That meant the party won just one of the six seats up for grabs, and the lone seat went to Right-leaning union fave Joe Bullock at the expense of well-regarded sitting Senator Louise Pratt. Now we’ve heard this:

“Nominations are open for State Secretary in Labor’s dysfunctional WA branch. After dragging down Labor’s vote to the low 20s, secretary Simon Mead should be a goner. But in a branch that gave us Joe Bullock, anything is possible.”

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We’ve asked around, and people tell us that Mead has indeed nominated again for the role. Critics claim he’s captive to the deal that installed Bullock, while others say our tipster is “just stirring the pot” and Mead is well-supported and likely to stay on. Western types can keep us posted here.

Serco cutting staff. The government is closing down some of its onshore immigration detention centres, which are run by UK services behemoth Serco (that contract runs out in December, by the way). A mole tells us “Serco is reviewing staff and offering redundancies in Darwin, this could and will affect up to 400 staff members”. There is also a claim that some workers on 457 visas look set to retain their posts while some local employees fear losing their jobs. Is that how it’s supposed to work?

We’ve put that to Serco but haven’t heard back. We’ve heard the union (United Voice, at least in some states) is watching the situation.

A Pyne in the arse. So the Education Minister wants to chase your HECS debt after death?

The Department of Australia (@DeptofAustralia) crafted that meme, and we like. (And yes, we know PM Tony Abbott has scotched Pyne’s little brainwave this morning.)

Foxtel-busting Netflix censored on Will the Australian launch of Netflix change your life? That was the contention of a rather gushing article posted on over the weekend, which has now, strangely, been removed. Why the takedown, a tipster pondered?

Is it because owner News Corp also owns half of Foxtel, a business threatened by Netflix (a US subscription video-streaming service)? Or is there a more innocuous reason for the article’s removal? We decided to ask through official channels, and got the journalistic equivalent of a polite no response. “Yes, the story is no longer online — we do this from time to time and don’t comment on decisions made within our newsroom,” editor Daniel Sankey told us. So with that readers, feel free to speculate away! And if you know why the story was removed, do get in touch.

Thailand not such a paradise. An expat living in Thailand sent us this concerning picture of life on the ground during the military coup …

“Like a roll call, the names of people are read out daily by the military on all TV stations who are requested to turn themselves in to the military junta. These people (255+ to date) are then usually held in a military camp for re-education and are forced to sign agreements that they will toe the junta line. We understand that most are released. But how do we know that?

“Mainstream TV stations are now back on air with Thai soaps, sport, documentaries and movies. But news channels such as BBC, ABC, CNBC, CNN etc are blocked completely. Quite a few newspaper reporters have also been called to account by the military about there stories and also for inappropriate questioning of the junta leader at a press conference.

“It’s only going to get worse. The junta does not seem to know how to block or filter the internet. But now, and as a matter if urgency, the junta has requested appropriate authorities to put together a national gateway through which all internet traffic must pass. The stated purpose is ‘to crack down on improper use of the internet’ and to protect Thais against computer viruses? The junta says that they will need to ‘seek co-operation’ from the operators of social media like Facebook and Line (the most widely used messaging forum in Thailand) to discuss improper content.”

Censoring the internet? Concerning indeed. And if you want to keep up with what’s going on in Thailand, follow @RichardBarrow (no, he didn’t send us that tip).

Kennett just got louder. Watch out, world — Jeff Kennett joined Twitter today. At least, we think it’s the real Jeff.

The “G” stands for Gibb, by the way (one twit said it was all very Bee Gees). It remains to be seen if the garrulous former Victorian premier, AFL identity and mental health advocate will master the art of containing his thoughts to 140 characters at a time.

Pickering revives. Comedian Charlie Pickering, who hung out at Ten’s The Project for a while, has a new blogThe Good — with some mates. Looks a bit like Upworthy, no? These people roam the internet, find stuff they like and curate it. Well, if you’ve got enough time on your hands …

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

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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