From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

No introduction needed. There has been a lot of hype around the role of minor parties in the lead-up to the Victorian election, and where there are minor parties, preference whisperer Glenn Druery is not far away. We hear from one minor party that Druery approached it over Facebook last month with a simple message: “Hi, I’ll be in Melbourne later this week; I’d love to catch up and talk all things political. Cheers, Glenn Druery.” The party in question is new to the game and didn’t know of Druery. When asked to introduce himself, Druery linked to the Minor Party Alliance Wikipedia page, of which he said: “Wiki only gets a small % of the truth”, and his profile in the Financial Review‘s Power List. The conversation stopped there, according to our tipster. Today marks one month until Victoria’s election, and we’ll be keeping an eye on preferences, friends, foes and gossip. Know anything? Drop us a line.


G20 security watch. The G20 Leaders’ Summit is just over a fortnight away, and Brisbane residents have sighted more security measures being put in place. From public transport to the city’s drains, it seems that signs and stickers are the way to go. Ms Tips wonders if stickers will stop anyone with ill intent, but if you notice anything unusual in the capital of the Sunshine State, let us know.

(Picture via Andrew McMillen)

What would Bradfield say? Regular readers of The Daily Telegraph will have noticed the face of John Bradfield, the architect behind the Sydney Harbour Bridge, appearing daily after Monday’s paper featured a wrap-around and a double spread proclaiming its new venture. As covered in Crikey in August, the paper has started the Bradfield Oration to “ensure Australia’s premier city remains a global powerhouse by adopting innovative, long-term strategies”. The inaugural lecture will be given by Prime Minister Tony Abbott next Wednesday, but until then the paper is running daily articles — another double-page spread yesterday and a full page today — on infrastructure proposals such as the Badgerys Creek airport, light rail in western Sydney and today’s “how to unlock the gridlock”. What is interesting, however, is the Tele’s partners in the initiative. Lend Lease and the University of Sydney were announced in August, but Monday’s paper also mentioned the National Roads and Motoring Association and Crown Resorts as partners, with a board of governors to continue to select annual speakers drawn from the companies as well as Tele editor Paul Whittaker. Part of the initiative is an honour roll of visionaries for the city, of which Lend Lease founder Gerardus “Dick” Dusseldorp is one of the first to be named. The companies involved have significant interests in planning decisions in Sydney — we’ll be listening very carefully to the PM next Wednesday night.

Races fun turns sour. It’s spring racing season in Melbourne, and Ms Tips advises racegoers to be careful when drinking around the boss. We hear that one senior executive at an Australian department store had a bit too much fun last year and is no longer with the company. But we doubt that our warnings mean that everyone will be on their best behaviour this year.

Scienceworks and maths controversy. Who would have thought that a weekly maths column on the education section of The Age‘s website could ignite such passion? A disappointed subscriber to Mathmasters, The Age‘s maths column, forwarded Ms Tips an email from the Mathmasters themselves, Burkard Polster and Marty Ross, saying that their pieces would no longer be appearing on the masthead’s website after eight years of weekly columns. In an email to followers, Polster and Ross said:

“Recently The Age appointed yet another part-time editor of their Education pages. Unlike our previous editors, this one considers it good and proper to publish articles after making meaning-distorting changes and without first consulting the authors. We were told to either put up with this or quit, and we’ve chosen to do the latter.”

Our interest was piqued by the email and we asked the pair what had gone on. It turns out that it wasn’t the lack of Fairfax subeditors that had got their goat, but a change to their copy in this week’s column. The column in question explains the maths behind the “whispering dishes” at Melbourne’s Scienceworks museum, and the original copy was less than complimentary about the explanation given at the exhibit. That didn’t make it to the final version — “the explanation that’s provided by Scienceworks is a non-explanation that we weren’t very happy about, we had a quick slap at Scienceworks,” Polster told Crikey. The pair felt that the column was no longer their article, so pulled the plug.

We asked The Age‘s education editor, Kate Nancarrow, why the pair were no longer with the section and were told: “Our budgets are tight and we have decided to redirect our resources elsewhere. We felt the column had run its course and no longer achieved the outcomes we were aiming for with the education section.” When asked what was next for the Mathmasters, Polster said: “Probably a long holiday.” The lesson here is don’t cross a mathematician — they’ve got the numbers behind them.

Offer you can’t refuse. This sign has been spotted at a hotel in Alice Springs — for those who like to sneak the shampoo at hotels, this is taking it to the next level:

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