From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Finance grads do the numbers. The Department of Finance graduate recruitment video that became the laughing stock of Canberra cost just $4000, a document released to a Senate committee shows. The YouTube video, which featured awkward acting from Finance graduates and senior public servants, is probably best known for giving us the knowledge of the existence of Paleo pear and banana bread. Reporting at the time, including in Crikey, mentioned that the contract for the advertising campaign was worth $40,000. An answer to Senate estimates released last week reveals the video itself was just $4000. For the amount of laughs that were had at the video, that seems like a bargain.

Where are all the ladies? Last year, Ms Tips pointed out that new tech sector industry body TechSydney has a small problem with women. As in, the small, almost non-existent, representation of women in its ranks. For a sector with as profound a problem with women as the tech industry, the picture of a pack of white bros with just one woman appeared to confirm that the sausage fest was as sizzling as ever. And while major companies continue to drag the chain (we’re still waiting for Brolassian to update its female employment figures), it’s a pleasure to report some good news. TechSydney, presumably chastened by the savaging it received at its launch, has issued a mea culpa and devoted an extensive part of its site to understanding and addressing diversity as well as providing links to resources to help companies that want to make themselves more representative of the markets they serve. One article that caught our eye included data on how the widespread tech sector practice of “technical interviewing” appears completely broken — a result that should be of interest well beyond the tech bros.

Cashless welfare card push. Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest is campaigning again for the expansion of the government’s cashless welfare card, which is currently being trialled in remote communities in South Australia and Western Australia under the auspice of his philanthropic organisation, the Minderoo Foundation. A website was launched late last month, promoting the benefits of the system, which quarantines 80% of a welfare recipient’s payment onto the card, leaving just 20% that can be used as cash. It is designed to address problems with drinking and gambling by those on welfare. Forrest has promoted the idea for such cards for years, but now the promotion is done by the smokescreen of the Minderoo Foundation. The website does say that it is owned by the Minderoo Foundation, and it references the Forrest Review commissioned by then-prime minister Tony Abbott — but it doesn’t mention Forrest himself.

Finance’s rainbow flag ‘within guidelines’. The results of the “flag inquiry” launched by the Department of Finance after right-wing backbench Senator Eric Abetz complained about a rainbow flag being flown in the department’s Canberra office are in, and it’s all above board.

In a Senate estimates hearing earlier this year, the Christian conservative Senator raised concern that the rainbow flag being flown in Finance’s Canberra office might be a political flag because of its association with the marriage equality movement he so deeply opposes. In a response tabled this week, Finance said that the flying of the flag was within the protocols set by the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, and the flag was part of Finance’s LGBTI staff network for all network events:

“As an inclusive employer and consistent with its diversity action plan, the executive board has agreed to support a number of staff networks across the department, including their preferred way to be acknowledged as important contributors to the department.”

So the flag isn’t going anywhere, but other staff groups will be allowed to fly their own flags if they want. Abetz has previously suggested that “pro traditional marriage” supporters in the department also be allowed to fly their own flag or banner. We wait with bated breath for that glorious creation.

Going for the pity vote. Politics, as we all know, is a rough old trade. But somewhere along the way, clearly, a line was crossed as far as Tony Burke is concerned. The sponsored content promoting his Facebook page now shows a picture of the manager of opposition business being comforted in Parliament by his colleagues in question time. The accompanying text is a simple plea: “Malcolm Turnbull was mean to me. Please like me.”

The photo he uses was taken by The Guardian‘s Mike Bowers on March 23, but having searched Hansard, Ms Tips has not been able to find the exact content of this sledge. We’re not sure using the internet equivalent of “please clap” is really the way to win over hearts and minds.

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