From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Eddie Hayson off the leash. Just what advice is PR extraordinaire Max Markson giving to Eddie Hayson? Hayson, the “controversial gambler”, is trying to resurrect his image after a series of scandals, including his links to the rugby league match-fixing allegations currently being investigated. He held a press conference last week in which he said that NRL players and jockeys enjoyed services free of charge in his brothel but he was just an ordinary punter who had no involvement in match fixing. The presser didn’t have the desired effect, with Kate McClymont writing that Hayson should “shut up” to avoid more bad press. Hayson didn’t take her advice, sending an abusive, homophobic rant via text message to Sydney Morning Herald journo Andrew Webster. Webster shared the text today in a powerful story, saying: “Most turn their back on nasty homophobia and pretend it didn’t happen. Don’t give the grub who said it any more oxygen. I’d prefer to call it out.”

The text said “your (sic) just a weak homosexual aren’t you,” before going on to more homophobic insults.


It’s not the first time Hayson’s abuse towards journos has been made public. McClymont also posted to Twitter screenshots of his texts last month, where he said “I still believe your (sic) a notorious wanna be gangster mole”.


If Max Markson was really committed to his client, it sounds like he should take Hayson’s phone off him.

Intelligence review will not lead to insight. Whether there’s benefit or not to be had from yet another review of the Australian Intelligence Community — as mooted today in the Fairfax press — will depend on how serious the government wants there to be. The last intelligence review in 2011 was a facile, Pollyannaish effort by an academic and a former head of the Attorney-General’s Department that declared all was well with agencies that had enjoyed a massive boost in personnel and resources with minimal accountability. Since then, of course, governments have pumped billions more into the coffers of our least accountable bureaucracies in the name of the endless War on Terror. But one benefit of any review will be that it will give Malcolm Turnbull an excuse to kill off any efforts by Labor to improve parliamentary oversight of security agencies via the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. Labor looks set to renew its push to strengthen the powers and role of the committee, but Turnbull appears to regard the committee with contempt, having appointed first far-right wingnut Andrew Nikolic to head it and then, after Nikolic was thankfully dispatched by his constituents, junior backbencher Michael Sukkar, who is likely to be rapidly house-trained by security agency bureaucrats who’ve been around longer than he’s been alive. A review should enable Turnbull to dismiss any reform efforts for the rest of what is likely to only be a two-year parliament.

Dutch take on Al Jazeera. A Dutch multimedia journalism company has taken a swing at multinational media company Al Jazeera over an article it claims the Qatar-based network republished — complete with Danish source code — without permission. Scrollytelling, a journalism company that specialises in online multimedia projects (articles that include videos, pictures and text on one page), wrote to Al Jazeera on its own website, saying multiple attempts to contact Al Jazeera had been ignored.

“Initially we were taken aback and confused. We knew there must be some mistake. We contacted the author of the piece, Hidde Boersma, who told us he sold his piece to you. This is fine. Our source code however was not included in the sale, nor could it have been. Hidde promised to resolve the situation. In addition we contacted you directly too. After waiting patiently we received no response. After many tries through your editorial office we got hold of an editor who promised to return our call. This never happened either. As a final measure we sent you a DMCA takedown request and waited patiently. No response.”

The story, which originally ran in Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant in May, was republished in Al Jazeera, and Martijn Van Tol and Joost Baaij from Scrollytelling say their source code was stolen as well, but badly:

“To add insult to injury, you didn’t do a great job at ripping the code either. The social sharing doesn’t work, the ‘audio off’ option is gone, and the animations are glitchy and let’s not get started on how the slide transition is just plain messy. Your video doesn’t seem to be globally distributed like ours, and the story isn’t on https.”


Conroy not the only high-profile departure. While most attention (including ours) was focused on the stealth resignation of Labor frontbencher Stephen Conroy on Friday, two of the country’s most senior public servants also announced their resignations. Department of Finance boss Jane Halton called it a day, after decades in the upper echelons of the public service. She was the longest-serving of any current APS secretaries, and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann paid tribute to her work. “At all times I have very much appreciated Jane’s professionalism, competence and good humour,” he said. “Though it is fair to say that Senate estimates is more fun with Jane sitting next to you rather than on the other side of the table.”

Halton said it was time to give someone else a chance to run a federal department, but she didn’t give any other clues about what she would do next. She told staff:

“After nearly 15 years as a secretary, at the beginning of a term of government, having beaten my father’s record of time as a secretary (a personal milestone), and now with our reform program in place it is the right time to go.”

Clerk of the Senate Rosemary Laing also announced that she would be leaving her role, but with an extra long notice period — her last day will be in March next year. She’s been in the role for seven years and in the department for 26, starting as a researcher, according to our friends at The Mandarin.

Aeroplane jelly. We know you love it — especially Crikey’s readers at Russell Hill — so we’re happy to bring you the latest news on the F-35. Yes — it’s Flying Heap of Crap Watch. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the air, 15 of the “troubled” planes have been grounded. The insulation around the fuel tanks is “peeling and crumbling”, apparently. The F-35 has previously been grounded for the minor problem of its engine catching fire. We’re no aeronautical engineers here at Crikey, but we imagine that a leaking fuel tank probably isn’t going to help in that regard. By the way, that’s the fuel that has to be ferried about on the tarmac in special high-vis trucks because otherwise it gets too hot. The F-35’s builder, Lockheed, dismissed the problem as just “a supply chain manufacturing quality issue” and not a technical or design issue, but we suspect that would be, erm, cold comfort for F-35 pilots as they’re engulfed in flames.

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