From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

BHP surprises staff. Following on from reports that BHP Billiton will announce a de-merger this week, we hear that the official announcement will be made tomorrow — when the company is due to announce its results for the financial year. We hear this from a tipster:

“The announcement will be made on Tuesday August 19 but the ‘pre-announcement’ spruiked on Friday came as a complete surprise to more than 15,000 affected staff. Rumour has it the new company will be headquartered in Perth. This means up to 2000 office-based staff will eventually be given the option of relocating to WA or resign. No redundancies are planned. Not a good look for the so-called Big Aussie who regularly claim ‘people’ are central to their success.”

Is the clock ticking on Dateline? We hear whispers that changes may be afoot at SBS’ international news and current affairs program Dateline. According to our tipster, “there is a belief that the award-winning program will be scrapped”. Our source also says executive producer Peter Charley’s contract is up at the end of this year and might not be renewed, and while an SBS person told us the broadcaster didn’t comment on employees’ contracts, Charley told us he was yet to have the discussion with the network. Those at SBS say they “fully expect” Dateline to be back next year, but will it be in its current form? We’ll be watching.

Big Ted no fan of Guy. The Herald Sun‘s front page reads today “100 Day Warning” for the Napthine government (even though it’s actually 102 days until Victorians go to the polls), and it seems voters aren’t the only ones down on the current crop of state pollies. Tensions between members of the Liberal Party are no secret in Spring Street, but our tipster found this outward display on Friday quite revealing:

“At Indian Independence Day celebrations Friday night former premier Ted Baillieu clapped (even with his hands full) for all speakers — but was stony faced and twice refused to clap for Minister Matthew Guy when all others did.”

Bob’s down with the kids. “I’m against tying the co-payment to the medical research fund,” the new Senator for Money Firs- sorry, Family First, Bob Day told The Contrarians on Sky News last Friday. Then he tried for a popular culture reference “It’s this goes with that, it’s a bit like Sussan”. Who? Sussan, the fashion label of yore, whose “this goes with that” campaign ran from 1989 to the mid-1990sYes, Bob’s reference is more than 20 years old. Here’s an ad for the campaign, which raises more questions than it answers. Why’s everyone slipping on clothes? Was this a nooner? What’s with the scotty dogs? And all that hair! Whatever the case, we hope everyone’s married, for the sake of Family First.

Which Wendy? Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie may not have many friends in legal circles after the appointment of Chief Justice Tim Carmody, but a leaked email from Tony Morris QC to Bleijie dated December last year shows that he has at least one. Morris has been advising Bleijie on how to pass laws that would allow sex offenders to be jailed indefinitely, but our tipster found the most interesting part of the email the “cc” line. Listed is Wendy Armstrong, a name that would be familiar to Queenslanders as a staffer to former premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson. Is it the same Wendy? We can’t be sure, but we’d love someone to fill us in.

Macquarie offers reviews. While the headlines about dodgy financial advice roll on and as the numbers of people possibly affected grow, we have obtained a copy of the email sent to by Macquarie to its customers whose files are being reviewed. The email excerpted below was one of those ordered by ASIC, and our tipster asks, “why are they being so deliberately vague about it? Clearly they’re obliged to tell me something, but don’t really want to”:

“The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) conducted a review of Macquarie Private Wealth (MPW) which resulted in MPW entering into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with ASIC in early 2013. As a result of its review, ASIC had a number of serious concerns about MPW’s advice practices and compliance with financial services laws and obligations under its Australian Financial Services License. A copy of the EU and a description of ASIC’s concerns can be found on its website. Following the EU, MPW has made a number of significant changes to its business including the introduction of new systems and advice documentation, extensive training and greater supervision of our advisers. As required by the EU, we are reviewing client files where we have identified concerns, such as some clients receiving advice that may not have been appropriate. Other measures will also be considered, such as checking that clients’ asset allocation is appropriate for their risk appetite.”

Assange, campaigner for what? The Guardian versus Julian Assange part 532: The Grauniad just can’t help itself, can it? For years now it’s sniped at, smeared and snarked about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. It’s a vendetta by the paper going back to Assange’s reaction to the bad faith shown by the Guardian over the Chelsea Manning cables in 2010 (and who can forget the Guardian’s very own phone hacker David Leigh publicly revealing the encryption password to the entire trove of cables?). Overnight, long-time Assange sniper Esther Addley referred to the Australian publisher as an “anti-privacy campaigner”, a term she didn’t even have the good grace to invent herself, since HuffPo has previously used it. Neither Addley nor her editor, Alan Rusbridger, responded to queries as to why the term had been used, although to be fair it’s Sunday in the UK and Rusbridger presumably uses it to refuel his sanctimony reserves.

The term plays to one of the most persistently noxious pieces of anti-Assange propaganda — that transparency of the powerful is comparable to personal privacy, and that because WikiLeaks campaigns for greater transparency by powerful institutions, it’s hypocritical for Assange or anyone associated with WikiLeaks to insist on their own privacy. Personal privacy is not comparable to the world’s most powerful governments and corporations hiding evidence of crimes, corruption and abuse of power. The Grauniad knows that perfectly well, but this is one jilted lover who is never going to get over it.

Like, literally. It doesn’t take much to know that the future is looking pretty dire at Australia Post, but it’s unlikely any of us thought it was this bad. In a speech by Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour to business leaders last week, Fahour told the AICC lunch that if Australia moved most of its government correspondence online, then “our letter volumes will literally fall off a cliff”. Now we’re imagining Postman Pat meeting an unfortunate end, which wouldn’t do well for all those letters wanting to get delivered. It’s more likely that — like most of Gen Y — Fahour uses “literally” where it doesn’t belong. We suggest a tutorial from Professor Yankovic.

Apologies all round. After Prime Minister Tony Abbott offended a good part of Scotland by saying that those who want to be independent of the United Kingdom were not friends of freedom and justice, the campaign for independence used another Australian icon to help their cause.  Should we be saying sorry now?

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

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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