From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Babysitting Tasmania. The Prime Minister, premiers and chief ministers were mostly very positive at their press conference after Friday’s COAG meeting covering national security, infrastructure and indigenous employment. But a tipster noticed something sounded a little off in this statement by Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman on the new national security measures:

“I am very interested, in fact came here to seek assurances about our safety as the island state and to be assured by federal agencies that we, as an island state, are indeed under constant supervision and receiving the necessary support, and I was pleased to receive that today.”

Under constant supervision? Like a babysitter? Our tipster says “I assume he meant to say surveillance rather than supervision, nonetheless I’m sure many in Canberra do indeed feel Tasmania needs all the supervision it can get … although perhaps not from nuclear strikes or terrorist IEDs.”

Don’t go giving them any ideas now …

Improving business at UniMelb. We hear from a tipster that the University of Melbourne is today going to ask between 1000 and 1600 staff members to reapply for their roles as part of the business improvement plan (BIP) announced earlier this year. We spoke to the uni and were told by a spokesperson that the applications for the roles aren’t actually new — the university had already announced that 500 jobs would be lost through natural attrition in line with the BIP, and the reapplication for roles has been happening for a few weeks:

“In July this year staff were informed of details of the new structure and that overall full time administrative staff numbers would be reduced by 505 by January 2016. It is anticipated that this will largely be achieved through natural attrition and a reduction in the number of casual and contract staff. After significant consultation with staff throughout this process, the University is now seeking to fill all positions across the university, many of which are new roles. Positions are being filled through a combination of direct appointments and expressions of interest. Expressions of interest for some 1500 positions were invited on the University’s website last week.  The filling of these positions by existing University staff is expected to occur over the next 6-8 weeks.”

The jobs are not being advertised externally, but we hear that some staff members are applying for multiple jobs out of fear that they might not get a role in the restructure. We also hear that the salaries on offer are not what many staff members expected. The NTEU branch president at the university, Ted Clark, told Crikey:

“This is creating unprecedented disruption and confusion at a time when the university is peaking its workload for staff in both assessment and enrollment, and this will create havoc for students and lecturing staff and most importantly professional staff trying to get their job done.”

We shall be watching closely.

Thanks but no thanks. Cost cutting and job losses have also been the theme at Melbourne’s La Trobe University over the last few years — Vice-Chancellor John Dewar had to hide in the university’s underground tunnels when confrontations with protesters at an open day took an aggressive turn in 2012. The university announced earlier this year that jobs would be lost as part of the “Funding Future Ready” program — a decision the NTEU fought against. At the NTEU’s urging Fair Work Australia ordered the university to acquire feedback from staff over the changes. Crikey has obtained a copy of this email sent to staff last week, and although the university completed the feedback process as ordered, it took a “thanks but no thanks” approach — the restructure will go on as planned, with more than 300 staff set to lose their jobs.

Warnie going back to India? Australian cricketing icon Shane Warne is set to tour the sub-continent once again, and funded by the Australian government no less. Opera Australia has been announced as a recipient of a $50,000 grant to take Eddie Perfect’s Shane Warne The Musical to India as part of a program by the Australia India Council designed to draw India and Australia closer together, culturally, and form bonds between the two nations. Now the big question is — will this tour also need a shipment of baked beans?

Scott Emerson on Facebook. We commend politicians who try to engage with constituents through social media, which is why we feel just a tinge of guilt at pointing out Queensland’s Transport Minister Scott Emerson’s Facebook fail on Friday. The post follows all the rules that promote social media engagement — there’s a photo, a clickbait headline and question, and it’s definitely shareable — just not the way his office planned. The post asks “Something exciting is coming to public transport. Can you guess what it is?” The problem is that his constituents have used it as a chance to to air their many grievances about Queensland’s public transport system. While most politicians would love to have more than 300 comments and 200 shares, we don’t think this has worked out as planned at all. And we still don’t know what’s coming to Queensland’s public transport …

Schools’ week off in Brisbane. We hear from a tipster that school students in the Brisbane CBD will be getting a week off during the G20 conference next month — sounds like something they will be celebrating. We asked the Queensland Education Department about the holiday and if it had been mandated by the department and were told that the decisions were being made by individual schools. Do you know of any schools or businesses getting extra time off for the G20 — and not just for the public holiday? Let us know.

No notes at airports. We’ve been covering the activities of officials at airports, and now this from a tipster:

“Until recently, when security guards at airports used the explosives ‘sniffer’ test, they were obliged to offer a sheet of paper to the person being searched; the sheet of paper explained what the search was, why it was happening, and what they were looking for. All easy to do and a nice human touch. But now, in the age of Team Australia, it seems that the security guards not only don’t offer this explanation but say they don’t even have the pieces of paper anymore!”

We asked Customs about the change in practice, and were told:

“The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is not required to distribute information cards at Australia’s international airports on the practices of the Detector Dog Program.”

We won’t say anything about that human touch …

Don’t sack your subs. We got an insight into how property reports are written at Domain last week when this piece was published on the auction results of a property in Sydney suburb Bardwell Park, and it was a bit more revealing than Fairfax would like. Our tipster said:

“Clearly uploaded prematurely, but provides an insight into how they structure property ‘news’ even when something hasn’t actually happened yet.”

Problem is — it seems that something has happened — realestate.com.au is reporting that the property sold on September 29. We checked back today and the report is still there in its unedited form.

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

Peter Fray

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