From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

You’ve got mail. The Queensland Nurses’ Union is accusing Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg of bypassing the union and inappropriately using the personal contact details of nurses and midwives to inform them that their enterprise bargaining agreement has been extended for another year. Last week thousands of nurses and midwives received an email from Springborg informing them that there would be a delay in starting negotiations for a new deal, which some say is a move to avoid negotiations and negative headlines in the lead-up to the 2015 state election in the first half of next year. The current agreement was due to expire at the end of March next year, and under changes instituted by the Newman government, negotiations can’t begin until three months before the expiry date. That would leave the Newman government — which needs all the help it can get — negotiating with nurses and midwives within six months of the election.While Ms Tips thinks it’s weirder that the email was titled “From the Minbox”, nurses and midwives have asked the minister why their personal emails were used and why the union was bypassed when announcing the decision. We hear that hospital HR departments are saying that they hadn’t supplied personal email addresses to the department. Questions are also being asked about why not all nurses received the email. We put the call in to Springborg’s office, but didn’t hear back before deadline.

On the right team? While fans of the country’s football codes are descending into September madness, one tipster has noticed that political “teams” are getting more traction:

“Looks like Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has caught Abbott’s ‘Team Thingy’ disease. See the extract from page 2 of the September edition of the free propaganda rag Living in Brisbane.”

Your briefs are showing. Although Fairfax is moving its subeditors offshore, the legal department seems to be putting in the time. We know because the first draft of a piece on the lawyer accused of using his deceased client’s MCC membership included a note from the legal department saying it was all right to go. Perhaps a subeditor would have noticed the story was not yet ready for publication? It’s fixed now, but a tipster grabbed this for us:

Kyle Sandilands — financial expert? Would you take financial advice from this man? Shock jock Kyle Sandilands is turning his hand to money lending. Imaginatively called 13KYLE, the website is so full of fancy graphics it actually hurts to visit for too long. Perhaps he is sensing that his time behind the mic is almost over and has decided to diversify his business. The website lists a range of financial partners.

Williams defenders exist. In the fallout from the publishing of the News Limited accounts by Crikey, News has defended its finances by saying that now the reign of former CEO Kim Williams is over, the books are getting back on track. It turns out Williams does have at least one fan within the company, with a News insider telling us this:

“Unfortunately the company has gone back to the bad old days. A News journo and photographer would turn up to a basic job and see another News journo and photographer, and just to round it off, maybe another snapper turn up! All from the same company. Why? It seems that all the fat that was trimmed has returned, and I fear the growing obesity will lead to more redundancies in the future. PS Kim, I know it seems minor, but thank you for changing our e-mail addresses. The stupidity of [email protected] were the most unfriendly going around when trying to deal with the public, but now we have [email protected] it’s a whole easier.”

Live crosses with added swearing. Two television reporters showed their professionalism on Friday night when their live crosses were interrupted by members of the public attempting to get their five seconds of notoriety. But what’s interesting is that viewers in both Sydney in Melbourne were treated to the exact same expletive-filled line. The ABC’s Lucy Carter was reporting from the scene of the tragic explosion in Rozelle, while Channel 7’s Tim Watson was outside the MCG before the AFL’s first qualifying final. Carter especially did a good job of continuing to report on the deaths of a young mother and her child after the man ran in front of her. Why the exact same line? The pranksters seem to be copying a line used by American filmmaker John Cain, who attempted to start a viral movement of people interrupting news bulletins with the line.

Mixed messages at AGL. We’ve been tracking the changes to electricity and gas bills promised by the the energy companies, but one tipster found it particularly jarring that AGL’s hold music encourages customers to switch to paperless bills to do the environment a favour, while also celebrating the savings created by the end of the carbon tax. Ms Tips spent some time on hold to AGL this morning and found the messages awkward to say the least.

Sales back on 7:30Today’s the day for Leigh Sales fans, as she will be back in the seat at 7:30 after six months of maternity leave. Chris Uhlmann has been a buffer between Sales and previous fill-in Sarah Ferguson (who must be one of the most popular substitutes in history) for the last month. ABC viewers get very attached to their hosts, and we’re sure Sales will be welcomed back by the viewers, if not by the pollies.

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

Peter Fray

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