From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

More changes for job-seekers. A caller to 6PR radio in Perth this week said 22 offices of government disability employment services provider CRS Australia would be closing down. We wondered if this would make it even more difficult for people with disabilities to become the mythic lifters our government so admires. We put the rumour to the Department of Human Services, which is responsible for CRS Australia and were told:

“CRS Australia Division will cease operating early next year as part of changes under the 2014/15 Budget, however current clients won’t be adversely affected and will continue to receive the same level of service. Under the Budget changes, the Australian Government will re-allocate the Disability Employment Service-Disability Management Service market share held by CRS Australia — a division within DHS — to non-government providers through an open tender. Once the tender process has been completed and new providers have been selected, all existing CRS Australia participants will be transitioned to the successful providers in their local area. This process will be completed by the end of February 2015. This process has already taken place effectively in a number of locations. Following this transition period, the CRS Australia division will wind up operations from March 2015. CRS Australia staff will be offered other roles within the portfolio.”

Sixteen CRS offices were closed in February this year, a move that was slammed by the Community and Public Sector Union at the time. We asked what would happen if no private providers tendered for particular offices and were told to contact the Department of Social Services. A DSS spokesperson said:

“Market response to previous tenders for DES has been strong and demonstrates a viable private sector and not-for-profit marketplace of providers who are interested in delivering services across the country. To date over 450 organisations have downloaded the Tender documents suggesting strong competition for this DES-DMS tender. There are existing private providers in almost all of the service locations, so it is highly unlikely that no tender application will be received for any particular location.”

Hold-ups at Births, Deaths and Marriages. Technical glitches can be infuriating at the best of times, but when it comes to death certificates delays come at an already difficult time. We noticed these tweets from Hoopla editor Wendy Harmer yesterday and thought many others might also be affected by the tech issues.

Harmer later tweeted that she had been on contact with the registry, which had been very apologetic. We asked the New South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry about the hold-ups for people waiting for these important documents, and were told by a spokesperson:

“The Registry launched a new business operating system on 23 June 2014. There have been complex technical issues with the roll-out, which are being addressed, and additional staff have been brought on while the issues are being resolved. Technical staff are working around the clock. Family history searches were split to a separate server, which has significantly eased the pressure on the certificate and registration functions of BDM. At the moment it is taking between 2-3 weeks longer than usual, but we expect that time to come down with the additional staff deployed. Throughout the roll-out, the Registry has worked closely with stakeholders.”

Nothing to see here. It’s less than a month since Qantas reached an out-of-court settlement with singer Megan Washington over alleged unauthorised use of a video of Washington singing I Still Call Australia Home, but it seems Qantas wants everyone to be quick to forget. The press release that contained the airline’s statement on the issue has disappeared from its website — although it still shows up in search results. As was reported at the time, the statement said Qantas “never accepted” that the video was misused.

Clearing the air. The National Air Pollution Summit is taking place in Melbourne this weekend, and it seems that Doctors for the Environment Australia are taking a leaf out of US President Barack Obama’s book in promoting the cause. The summit will discuss how air pollution is killing Australians and causing disease. According to DEA’s press release, deaths caused by pollution are double the road toll, and they say they’re angry that Environment Minister Greg Hunt isn’t doing anything about it. It’s a very similar line of argument to that used by Obama in promoting his new climate plan last month. Will it catch on here? We’ll be watching.

Bills, bills, bills. After Wednesday’s tip on funky bills at Telstra, we of course had quite a response from tipsters. We got in touch with Telstra again and were told:

“We’ve looked into the services referred to us by Crikey and can confirm usage has been charged accurately. As always, we’d be happy to talk with any customer to ensure they are on the best plan with the right inclusions to meet their needs.”

Keep the change. While we wait patiently for the $550 of savings to come from the end of the carbon tax, one tipster was bemused to receive this email from the Spirit of Tasmania. The ferry that takes passengers between the Apple Isle and the mainland is giving passengers who booked before the carbon tax repeal was legislated refunds to account for the lack of tax, but as our tipster said: “The fare was $290. Suspect the admin was more than the refund.”

Neigh, a happy birthday to you! As it is August 1, we wish our equine friends many happy returns and carrots for their collective special day. Taking a look at today’s form guide, we especially commend Stark Tony, who we assume is named for our dear leader, Kirribilli Gold, for the PM’s Sydney residence, and Queen of Eight, who must be named for Jacqui Lambie as she reigns over the balance-of-power senators. We’ll be putting our money on Press Report, though, in the hope we also have a birthday win.

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