From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

News murmurings. Ten’s executive chairman, Hamish McLennan, wants to run News Corp Australia, according to chat around the TV industry, but first he has to get the refinancing of the struggling Ten Network out of the way. The Australian is reporting this morning that the ABC is on the hunt for a replacement for managing director Mark Scott, and Sky News boss Angelos Frangopoulos gets another mention. There is also talk of his name from non-ABC media circles in Sydney. Frangopoulos has been at Sky since it started in the mid-1990s, and some think he has the ear of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. That’s been linked to the impending takeover of Sky News by News Corp Australia, and we also hear there’s rising angst at the broadcaster about the arrival of interventionist News on the scene, especially by Sky’s highly regarded political reporting team in Canberra, who fear News will load more hacks from The AustralianDaily Telegraph and Herald Sun onto the operation and turn it into a local version of Fox News.

Looking for a wage spark. Cool Guys, famously, Don’t Look At Explosions or as the Internet’s most addictive site, TV Tropes, calls it, they engage in an “Unflinching Walk” . We thought of that meme this morning after government lamentations to the AFR’s Phil Coorey that weak wages growth was going to seriously hurt the budget. True, wages have either undershot or barely equaled inflation over the last two years or more, and that’s now having serious impacts on tax revenue for the Coalition, which has long and vociferously opposed wage rises for ordinary workers (see “Be Careful What You Wish For”). But forget the budget — spare a thought for Industrial Relations and Public Service Minister Eric Abetz. Not only has Abetz demanded that public servants, including ADF personnel, take real pay cuts by accepting wage rises well below inflation, thereby contributing to the exact problem his colleagues are complaining about, but it was Abetz last year who warned that Australia was going to experience a “wages explosion”. Fair to say Joe Hockey would give his eyeteeth for a wages campfire at the moment, let alone a full-scale explosion.

Victorian ALP factions. It’s been reported that a new “super-faction” has been formed that unites most of the Victorian Labor right, bringing together the numbers controlled by Labor Leader Bill Shorten and Senator Stephen Conroy. But one tipster tells us the deal isn’t quite set in stone:

“The ‘deal’ that is said to be going around in Vic ALP Right has not eventuated. Both the NUW and Conroys have not seen any deal. The Age is wrong no Centre Unity faction has been form as of yet. Everything is fluid.”

Know more? You can let us know here.

Putting a foot wrong. Metro Media Publishing has had a bit of a stuff-up in one of the editions of its newly relaunched Weekly Review. A tipster has sent us the stuff-up, saying only “the story really has legs”, with no other info on what the mistake was. We’ve worked it out now, but it took a while. The cover on the right has the problem — can you spot the difference? Let us know in the comments when you see it.

Lost in translation. They do things differently in the Northern Territory, and last week the NT deputyspeaker Matt Conlan took it to a new level, getting up in Parliament to deny allegations that he had been arrested overseas in 2013. In the process, Conlan detailed all the different rumours that had circulated over the last few months about how he had charged $5119.54 to the credit card of the CEO of Tourism NT. Did he have a run-in with the Triads in China? No. Did he get arrested in Japan following an altercation and require bail? No. Was he locked up in Singapore? None of the above, says Conlan, he just couldn’t pay his tab:

“The matter of the $5119.54 that I requested the CEO of Tourism to settle on my behalf was, to put simply, a bar tab gone wrong. It was in Tokyo. Anyone who has been to Japan will know it is not difficult to rack up large hospitality bills, but nevertheless it became clear on receiving the account at the end of the evening that my generosity was severely taken advantage of. As a result I found myself in a situation where my own credit card could not cover the expense. Consequently, the only option to me at the time was to phone my CEO, who was not with me at the time, and ask if he could please settle the account for me and I would make arrangements to resettle it from my own salary.”

Not everyone does know how easy it is to rack up large hospitality bills in Japan, but the NT News reports Conlan was at a kyabakura, which can be translated as a “cabaret club” where the conversation of hostesses sometimes ends up on the bill. Conlan says that wasn’t the case and that he has paid back the bill. The full speech can be read here.

Chinese whisperes. On Friday we had a tip that staff at the University of Sydney were unnerved by a post from vice-chancellor Michael Spence on the uni’s internal social media platform, Yammer. It’s a bit of a tense environment there as staff member Jake Lynch awaits the outcome of an investigation into a protest at a lecture on the campus in March. The uni’s communications staff tell us we haven’t got the whole story, though, sharing another Yammer post with us:

Our new head of state? While the world’s media was enamoured with the new princess born to William and Kate on Saturday, not everyone is quite so impressed. The Australian Republican Movement decided not to mention the royal babby at all:

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

Peter Fray

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