From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Manufacturing drops below services for first time. Yesterday the latest data from one of the more interesting long-term statistics collections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics was released: its breakdown by industry of the Australian workforce. Every quarter, we repackage the data to show what proportion each major industry is in terms of the overall workforce of, now, 11.6 million. While the shifts every three months are incremental, over the long run they track major changes in the economy. And the August quarter data offers a significant symbolic moment in the Australian economy: for the first time ever, services (specifically, “professional, scientific & technical”) has now overtaken manufacturing; the former increased from 7.8% of the workforce to 8.1%, while manufacturing has gone below 8% for the first time ever, to 7.9%. Retail, while still below its pre-GFC level of 11+%, is still strong at 10.7%; mining has dropped to its lowest level in nearly two years as a proportion of the overall workforce — just 2.1%; public administration continues its downward trend and is 6.2% — down from 6.6% a year ago, while the employment giant continues to be health care and social assistance, on 12.2%.
What are ethics worth? Victorians have become resigned to strange anomalies from their government, like the fact that while it’s not possible to buy a tram ticket on an actual tram, it is possible to pay a fare evasion fine on the spot on said tram. Another such anomaly has been found by a tipster in the wildlife research field, where volunteer researchers who tag and release native birds are now being charged $505 to have their activities approved by an ethics committee. Our tipster thinks the ethics committee is a good idea, but baulked at the cost. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries says the increase in fees last year was because the previous fee didn’t cover the committee’s costs. What really adds insult to injury for our tipster is that in Victoria, a duck hunting licence costs a mere $158.70. So it appears if you can’t afford to do ethical research, there’s another option.
iPhones losing their appeal? Major telcos were trying to ramp up the hype around the iPhone 6 ahead of it becoming available in Australia this morning, with everything from goodie bags to live performances on offer to make the overnight line-up worth it. But when Ms Tips passed Telstra’s Bourke Street store this morning the crowd looked very thin indeed, nothing like the hundreds of people lining up at the Apple stores in the major suburban shopping centres and in the Sydney CBD. Has the bloom come off the Apple in Melbourne?
Gatecrasher George Gregan. The small business community held its night of nights on Wednesday with the Smart50 Awards in Melbourne, and while businesses jostled to get on the list, the party had one unexpected guest — former rugby union star George Gregan. We also hear that Small Business Minister Bruce Billson had a good time with the best and brightest of the entrepreneurial world, comparing them to “the Renaissance” — hopefully there isn’t another Medici family thrown in.
Ice, ice, baby. We’ve reported previously about the money that activist group GetUp is making from a partnership with energy company PowerShop, and it looks like the group is expanding the idea of commercial partnerships. We were told at the time the group would be looking at more commercial opportunities, and now ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s is advertising that it will be handing out free ice cream at climate change rallies run by GetUp on Sunday. It sounds like a good match — we know ice cream helps cool things down, maybe the planet could use one.
New archbishop has friends in high places (not that high place). The Catholic Church has announced that the new Archbishop of Sydney (the most senior role in the Church in Australia) is Bishop Anthony Fisher. Today’s report in the Oz had a few strange moments, like this line:
“While announced on a day when it was overshadowed by the thwarting of deadly jihadist plots, Bishop Fisher’s appointment is a reminder of the role of Dominican Pope Pius V, who rallied a Christian coalition against a Muslim fleet in the Battle of Lepanto in October 1571.”
Although the report notes that Fisher is the first of the Dominican Order of Preachers to get the top job in Australia, he may not appreciate the comparison which seems to imply he should also lead a Christian coalition against Muslims. Fisher grew up in Sydney, attending St Ignatius College in Riverview, where he has previously told a reporter he looked up to Tony Abbott, who attended daily mass “so it wasn’t so daggy for the rest of us”. We wonder what their school reunions are like …
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AGNSW wants experience. Following our tip on the sacking of front-of-house volunteers to be replaced with new casual staff at the Art Gallery of New South Wales amid tensions between staff and management, we’ve found the gallery’s ad for the staff to take over the roles, and the first thing it asks for is experience, which is a bit of an insult to the volunteers, according to our tipster:
“Most of the volunteers have university degrees, some even have PhDs. All volunteers know as much about computers, iPads and iPhones as the average 20 year-old. They use them every day. In a survey it was found that more than 70 per cent of the volunteers (and guides) at the Art Gallery of NSW had degrees – it was something like five times higher than the general population. Adding insult to injury, the Gallery is now advertising for people to pay them for doing what the volunteers successfully did for nothing over decades.”
Yes by a nose? We won’t know the results of the Scottish independence referendum until later this afternoon, but punters at the Newcastle Cup yesterday could have witnessed an omen in the final race of the day. “Scottish Border” won the Coates Broadmeadow Mile, paying out $13. Will those betting on the Scottish border actually being a thing also be holding the winning ticket?