From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

You’re in! Oh, wait, no … If you’re lucky enough to live with a young person studying for HSC, VCE, QCS or equivalent this year, you know that exam time is hard enough as it is. But students who had applied for a cert IV in design at RMIT received this email yesterday telling them they had been accepted into the course, followed by another telling them to ignore the first one. We hear that it was very disappointing — especially as students in Victoria are still sitting exams.

We asked RMIT how many students received the email and how the error was made, but didn’t hear back before deadline.

Big Ideas confusion continues. The ABC announced its suite of shows for next year yesterday, and we received this from a tipster:

“Yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald published the full list of shows for 2015 — new and returning. Big Ideas was included in this list under News 24 (returning). However in the official PDF package sent out by Richard Finlayson to all staff in the TV division; Big Ideas was NOT listed under News24 nor anywhere else in the official document.”

As has been reported in Crikey, we understand that the Big Ideas name will probably still be around on ABC TV next year, but potentially not in the same form. Finlayson said earlier this week that management was still making up its mind on the program’s format, but the program’s four staff are sceptical on whether it’s future iterations will involve their continuing employment at Aunty. Perhaps the only thing that’s clear right now is that ABC management seems to have completely stuffed up communicating plans to staff.

Australian Ballet drama. We thought that ballet was a cut-throat industry for those on the stage, but it seems that it’s just as fiery in the offices of the Australian Ballet, after the appointment of Libby Christie as executive director in July last year:

“Within three months of taking up the position, then associate executive director Philippe Magid was out the door — the first of a string of staff to leave. Stepping into the downgraded role of executive director — marketing, was Penny Rowland, a marketing manager from Sydney Opera House. Since Rowland’s appointment in January, 19 staff members have departed the marketing/media/customer services office. This included two long-term staff members who were made redundant on the spot (leaving staff without the opportunity to say their farewells), and three managers who resigned within six months of commencing employment with the organisation … Adding to staff woes was the discovery that new staff members were being paid, in some cases, double the salary of existing staff. On top of the 19 marketing staff who have departed the organisation, more than ten other staff members from other areas have also departed, leaving existing staff to question when a stop will be put on the revolving door that is Australia’s national ballet company?

We put the claims in the tip to the Australian Ballet and were given this statement from Christie:

“Over the last 12 months The Australian Ballet, as an initiative of the Board, has developed a new five-year strategic plan. This has required some restructuring within the organisation, particularly in marketing, including the creation of a number of new roles. Inevitably, some staff have also chosen to pursue new opportunities. The company is very proud of the skills, experience and commitment of its team, both long-term staff members and new.”

A night at the opera. A glimpse into the rarefied air of opera opening nights, where the nation’s Opposition Leader enjoyed a prime possie at the State Theatre in Melbourne for the opening of Tosca last night. The function room at interval was stuffed with the usual crowd of old money and fading power. Bill Shorten kept his distance from former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett and other Liberal luminaries (it’s a pretty conservative crowd, the opera set), preferring to mingle with others. And for the celebrity gossip mongers among you: stage and TV starlet Lisa McCune stayed close to her new-ish squeeze, the towering baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

Bradfield rolling in his grave. We’ve been covering the obsession The Daily Telegraph and Prime Minister Tony Abbott have with JJ Bradfield, the architect of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Crikey for a few weeks, as the PM gave the very first Bradfield Oration to spruik his plans to be the “infrastructure prime minister”. He even suggested that Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek be named after Bradfield, but this letter in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald shows that not all who bear the Bradfield name would be pleased with that:

“Bill Bradfield was my grandpa and often told me, his family, his peers and politicians that the solution to Sydney’s need for an upgrade was the further expansion of the existing airport. Badgerys Creek, he maintained, was not suitable for a number of reasons. In addition to anyone who would listen, he petitioned the Howard government at the time  and proposed his alternative plan, but his protests fell on deaf ears. To see my family name honoured in this way would be extraordinary, but Grandpa Bill would be rolling in his grave if he knew the airport he so vehemently opposed would bear his surname to honour his dad.  And I wonder if J.J.C. might be turning in his grave as well because he loved his son and airports were Bill’s thing, not his.

Michael Bradfield, Surry Hills”

G20 watch. In our ongoing coverage of the effect of the G20 on Brisbane, we have received many tips telling us that the city is already a ghost town, with many businesses asking employees to work from home this week. For those travelling in the city, we hear that this has made public transport, the airport and the roads quite easy to use as most people are staying away. One tipster was even happy to get her fruit and veggie box a day early. It’s not all good news, though — one has said the city reminds him of Belfast during the Troubles, and the Progressive Australia blog caught this video of a helicopter landing and covering the Inner City Bypass motorway with dust as it landed the other day:

Well, that’s terrifying. How do you distract voters from the fact that a former neo-Nazi has been working on your campaign? Photoshop! This crazy press release was put out by the Victorian Liberals this morning.

Old white guys from the ’80s. Ms Tips is so very lucky to have so many readers alert her to the fact that Phil Collins and Sting are separate people and their bands are completely different. Shows that even though two people look the same and sound kind of the same, they are not actually the same. As a sort of apology, we present this puntastic correction. Usually we don’t name our tipsters, but Josh Melham has done such a top job that he deserves the credit for this:

“Rather you should ask if Clive stays in a suite or perhaps a Sussudio (I Cannot Believe It’s True, it’s Against All Odds). Does he dress formally or is No Jacket Required? When Clive is there can staff feel it In The Air Tonight or perhaps Thru These Walls? Do they charge extra if he asks to stay Another Day in Paradise, One More Night or Why Can’t it Wait ‘Til Morning? Does the concierge urge him “Don’t Lose My Number” or warn the staff “Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away”? Do Clive and the Hotel Hotel have A Groovy Kind of Love? We Wait And We Wonder, Crikey, because we need Both Sides of the Story. It’s The Least You Can Do.”

We also thank Christian Kerr in Strewth for alerting us to our screw-up. While Kerr suggests we should stop listening to Mumford and Sons, we think that shows his age more than ours. Mumford and Sons is so 2010. All the cool kids are listening to Kingswood now. We hear they’re named after a car …

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

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey