From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Air Force computers don’t fly. This from a Defence mole:
“The Air Force got a new computer system a bit over a year ago which let in the most junior officer to any level of security. One would hope that that incompetence has been fixed but staff who inadvertently clicked on the wrong spot are now being treated like criminals.”
We’ve put the question to Defence and are yet to hear back.
Calling in Gore. It was just three weeks ago that Clive Palmer stood up with Al Gore to announce his climate change conversion, which some media outlets heralded as a blow to Tony Abbott. As the carbon tax repeal is debated today, we wonder how Gore feels about it. Don Henry, ex-CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, was pivotal in setting up the meeting between Gore and Palmer (#palmgore) — and we’ve learned Henry is in New York on Gore-related business at the moment. A last-minute crisis meeting to discuss the looming carbon tax repeal? We’ve emailed Henry to ask if that’s the reason for the trip.
Shhhh. Which senior government staffer has been badmouthing one of Australia’s most respected national security officials? Not a good look, especially given the bad odour in which said staffer is currently held.
Let them eat cake. We were delighted to hear that staff at The Australian loved their birthday cake, courtesy of Crikey (picture here), sent to Sydney HQ to mark the rag’s 50th birthday yesterday. Reports are that it was “delicious and demolished” and even editor Chris Mitchell had a slice. According to James Jeffrey’s Strewth, Paul Kelly was the only one brave enough to eat his own likeness on the icing, although according to Twitter, Jeffrey also enjoyed a slice.
Tony Abbott called The Australian a “paper for the nation”, but we’ve had a complaint from the Perth bureau — they’re feeling a little neglected:
“While those over east celebrated with a fancy dinner and drinks, all the Perth workers got was an early deadline and a pat on the back. No cake. No party. Not even a bar card. Happy birthday indeed.”
We worry about what we’ve started, with requests for cakes rolling in. Sorry everyone, only special frenemies like the Oz get cakes.
Small town gossips. It took less than 12 hours for the reports that 399 residents of a mystery town in Eastern Victoria had been advised to get tested for HIV for the town in question to be named as Bairnsdale (in East Gippsland). Residents who came into contact with a dentist who contracted the virus have been told to get tested, but the Health Department has not named the town (which had 11,820 residents at the 2011 census), in a bid to protect the privacy of the health worker and the residents.
So what did the media do? The Herald Sun website doesn’t name Bairnsdale, while The Australian and the ABC do. Although no longer named on The Age website, the article still appears in Google News searches for “Bairnsdale”. We asked the Health Department why the town wasn’t named by them, and were told it was a mix of ethical and legal considerations, and they didn’t explicitly request that media outlets keep mum. The Health Department still hasn’t confirmed the town’s name but a spokesperson told Crikey they were prepared for it to come out.
It’s an interesting conundrum, a quick search shows that the number of Bairnsdale dental businesses is in single figures, and 399 residents is a significant number in a small town. The town can legally be reported, but should it?
Choosing option B. In Senate question time yesterday, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam tried out a new tactic to actually get an answer — in this case, on ABC funding cuts: “Will you now acknowledge that Mr Abbott’s pre-election commitment was a flat-out lie or would the minister instead prefer to read some irrelevant and monotonous talking points to take up the two minutes he has been allocated?” That got a laugh from both sides of the chamber. For the record, the minister took the second option.
Photoshop wars. Clive Palmer doesn’t shrink from a fight, and it looks like he’s decided not to take News Corp’s continual photoshopping of him lying down (remember the Daily Tele’s wrecking ball?). He posted this yesterday of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch. We think it’s not a bad job, but some twits think News Corp does it much better.