From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Remember when? While Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Australian Border Force Commissioner blame the media for reading their press release and pledge to investigate their “processes,” a tipster tells us the history between the two goes back quite a distance:

“It seems not to be common media knowledge that Peter Dutton and Roman Quaedvlieg were both apparently very close during their time together in the Queensland Police in the early 1990s, where I worked also.”

Invest in the journalism that makes a difference.

EOFY Sale. A year for just $99.

SAVE 50%

Quaedvlieg joined Customs in 2013 as deputy CEO and was promoted to CEO in October 2014, before Dutton took the reins in last December’s reshuffle, and was announced as inaugural Commissioner of the new agency in May this year. Dutton was a police officer for nine years, leaving the force in 1999. According to his website, he worked in the Sex Offenders Squad, the Drug Squad and the National Crime Authority. Quaedvlieg was in the Queensland Police Force for 15 years, from 1985 to 2000. His profile on the Border Force’s website says he “performed duties in a range of positions investigating and managing serious and organised criminal activity”. We asked the Border Force if Dutton and Quadvlieg had worked together in their time at the Queensland Police Force, and if they knew each other at the time. The department told us that Dutton and Quaedvlieg didn’t work together, but didn’t address whether or not they knew each other while they served in the police ranks. Do you know more? Drop us a line; you can be anonymous if you wish.

Computer says no. One of the more stunning revelations from Dyson Heydon’s decision not to recuse himself from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption yesterday was his admission that he does not own a computer, and cannot send or receive email. Instead he only reads email that is printed out to him by his personal assistant.

But some keen observers pointed out yesterday that two monitors are clearly visible from Heydon’s desk at the commission.

Does this cast doubt on the commissioner’s claim to computer illiteracy? Apparently not. The official word from the commission is that those two monitors are used to allow Heydon to see documents and transcripts used during the hearings.

There is no keyboard attached to the monitors, and they are operated by the commission’s technical provider. Similar keyboard-less screens are also on the bar tables in the hearing room, we are told.

Crt + Alt + Del. Also on the topic of Heydon’s computer illiteracy, Electronic Frontiers Australia has sent out a press release slamming the Commissioner for so blithely saying that he didn’t use a computer:

“It is no longer acceptable for high-ranking public officials to not possess at least the most basic computer and electronic communication skills as are required for the most junior entry-level positions.”

The organisation suggested ways to get help (patient Millennials in the family are usually a good bet), but also used it to plug their own courses.

“There are many excellent training courses available from any number of organisations around Australia and online. Most local libraries offer very high quality free training to residents on all sorts of internet and web-based systems. There is also no shortage of daughters, sons, nieces, nephews and god-children that are more than capable of providing basic computer skills training to those in their families whose formal education occurred in the pre-digital age.”

Maybe a night class at the local TAFE could do the job?

Markson and Markson. It’s been more than a week since Mark Latham told the ABC’s Jonathan Green at the Melbourne Writers Festival that he would not be confirming whether or not he was behind the Twitter account @realmarklatham, because he was waiting for an opportunity that would get him paid. Last week it was revealed that Latham had contracted Max Markson, celebrity agent and  father of The Australian media editor Sharri Markson, to shop around Latham’s media services, which include occasional swearing and taking on feminists. Markson junior has often been the target of many of Latham’s attacks, but this morning she had an exclusive — Latham’s signed up to Nine’s new late-night panel show, which is expected to be hosted by Karl Stefanovic. Markson reports that it will cover topics like “gay marriage, whether Australia is a racist country, the Adam Goodes controversy and whether baby-boomers are a selfish generation”. Last week when we asked Markson senior why he would represent someone who had been so viscious towards his daughter, he said: “I love my daughter very much… This is purely a commercial decision.” He sure does.

More art drama. Staff morale at the Art Gallery of NSW is sinking amid warnings that management is planning another round of redundancies and other economies.

The proposed cuts were outlined to a meeting of staff members last month. They come on top of last year’s redundancies, which ended the employment of two senior media executives, department heads and others. At least 20 jobs are believed to be under threat, with voluntary redundancies called for in the first instance. Staff have been interviewed in “clusters” by outside consultants to find out what they do.

Adding to the discontent, the meeting was told that 70 staff will be moved off site to the State Library of NSW for most of next year while executive offices are refurbished. Employees are wondering whether the union, the Public Service Union (PSU), has agreed to these arrangements or not.

The gallery’s results for 2014-2015 have yet to be released. Insiders say they are unlikely to compare favourably with the figures for either the National Gallery of Victoria or the Art Gallery of South Australia, both of which recorded strong increases in attendance for the same period. We asked the gallery what was going on with the redundancies and the refurbishment, and were told by a spokesperson:

“Like other NSW government organisations, the Art Gallery of New South Wales needs to find savings in the current financial year through measures such as efficiency dividends and procurement changes and the Gallery is currently working through this process.

It is correct that a number of Art Gallery of New South Wales staff will relocate temporarily in 2016 to the State Library of NSW while offices at the Gallery are upgraded.  The Gallery is most grateful for the generous and collegiate support of Alex Byrne at the State Library in this regard.”

Out and about. From a Sydney-based tipster:

“The scene: Queen Street Woollahara this morning, just before 9 am, the Luxe Cafe, the new hot spot for Queen Street caffeine addicts and yummies to meet and greet and gossip. Young female students from Mariah College collecting for Legacy. The gossiping and silent addicts were approached and gave willingly, except one, a very well known Eastern Suburbs art dealer. She turned the girls away when they approached her for a donation. Others at Luxe noted the rebuff.”

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips or use our guaranteed anonymous form.

Save this EOFY while you make a difference

Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

We’ve pushed our journalism as far as we could go. And that’s only been possible with reader support. Thank you. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, this is your time to join tens of thousands of Crikey members to take the plunge.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
SAVE 50%