From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Pinching pennies at the ABC. It seems everyone has an idea on how the ABC and SBS can save funds — we’re sure the next tipster will be telling us that even Nescafe’s Blend 43 is too much of a luxury in the tea room. We got this from a tipster regarding the number of staff Australian broadcasters are sending to next week’s MIPCOM conference — an industry event where content is bought and sold from across the world:

“The ABC and SBS could save a whole lot of back office costs by considering how many public servants they send to the South of France to attend the yearly Television market of MIPCOM held in Cannes. A glance at the attendance database shows ABC is sending 11 people, SBS is sending 11 people. Costs to the taxpayer include registration fees, accommodation fees, and airfares to the South of France for a week a well as per diems. By comparison Nine is sending six people , Ten is sending three people, Seven is sending seven people.”

We followed this up with both the ABC and SBS, and our tipster wasn’t quite on the money. SBS is sending seven people, while the ABC decided not to comment. We understand that the event isn’t all fun and games, even if it is in Cannes; SBS uses it to show off programs as well as find content from all around the world. We do love hearing gossip from conferences and junkets; drop us a line if you know something we don’t.

Who’s retiring now? New South Wales said a heartfelt farewell to Dame Marie Bashir yesterday, as the governor retires after 13 years representing the Queen to the nation’s first colony. But the governor’s own website gave her a promotion at the last minute, claiming that the “Governor General” was retiring. Bashir has filled in as governor-general at times as she is second in the chain of command, but she hasn’t actually taken over Peter Cosgrove’s job. Oops.

Chief scientist and coal seam gas. New South Wales’ Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane  announced yesterday that she was giving the green light to coal seam gas in the state, saying in a report to the government that:

“The review examined this issue in detail and concluded that while the CSG industry has several aspects that need careful attention, as do almost all industries, it is not significantly more likely to be more damaging or dangerous than other extractive industries.”

O’Kane is not completely unfamiliar with the oil and gas industry. When she was vice-chancellor of Adelaide University from 1996 to 2001, the university was sponsored by Santos to create a School of Petroleum Engineering. Santos is one of the biggest companies in the coal seam gas industry and  has been looking to expand its coal seam gas exploration across the state, particularly at the controversial $2 billion Narrabri gas project in the Pilliga Forest. Santos donated $25 million to Adelaide University in 1999 to set up a School of Petroleum Engineering, which included funding a Santos Professor of Petroleum Engineering, touted as “the largest single industry sponsorship ever given to a public university in Australia” at the time. O’Kane has previously expressed concern to the Deputy Director General of NSW Trade and Investment’s Resources and Energy Department that she had been put in a “very compromising position” on the Santos Narrabri Project when she was asked to assess the project while the comprehensive review was still going on.

Top-notch edukashun. You would think that after photos of spelling mistakes on Monash University advertisements went viral last year the PR department would take some extra time with spell check. It seems that isn’t the case, with this photo doing the rounds on social media:

BYO toilet paper. Workers in some of Melbourne’s biggest buildings are being advised to “bring your own toilet paper and soap” today, as cleaners from Consolidated Cleaning Services have taken their pay dispute to where it really hurts. Cleaners working for the company voted for work bans that include refusing to clean toilets, replace toilet paper and empty rubbish bins as part of their pay dispute, and the often invisible employees want to make sure they get noticed. Up to 27 buildings in the CBD could be affected, including the NAB building, the CBA building and the Optus Centre. Sounds like this pay dispute is going to be a stinker.

The workers rise! While some politicians will turn up to the opening of an envelope, it seems the Socialist Party in Melbourne will protest anything — and this week’s target is not what you might expect. We received a press release from the party saying the voice of the Atherton Gardens Residents Association was being stifled and the Socialists will be marching to the Brotherhood of St Lawrence tomorrow. Atherton Gardens residents claim that they have been banned from holding meetings at the Atherton Gardens public housing estate in Fitzroy because they oppose the “state government’s plans to create a council of handpicked community representatives”. The meeting room is managed by the charity. We hear from the Brotherhood, however, that they haven’t been banned, much less on political grounds:

“AGRA has not been banned from using the room, it has simply been asked to finish its meetings at the agreed time.  Despite being asked numerous times it has not co-operated with this request. Contrary to [Socialist councillor Stephen] Jolly’s statement that the Brotherhood ”is trying to stifle voices’, we have consistently advocated for the right for residents to hold political meetings on the estate.”

We’re all about equality. Yesterday we published a photo of baby MP Wyatt Roy with two representatives of the V8 Supercar competition, but it seems that he is not the only member of the government meeting attractive celebrities. So in all fairness, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop posted this photo with actor Chris Hemsworth yesterday. Ms Tips is very pleased that Thor himself is the ambassador for safeguarding children. We republish it here to balance the ledger.

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

Peter Fray

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