From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Has Centrelink suffered a new data breach? We hear — to go with interminable wait times, the ongoing fall out disastrous robo-debt policy and all manner of unpopular, punitive measures aimed at some of society’s most vulnerable people — yet another public relations calamity is slouching towards Centrelink. We’ve been told a media announcement is expected from the agency in coming days, as there has been a “massive Centrelink data breach affecting customers”. Watch this space — we certainly will be. Know more? Let us know.
Who leaked against Roman Quaedvlieg? Today’s Daily Telegraph/Sharri Markson leak about the Border Force head’s texts to his girlfriend has been referred to the Australian Federal Police, according to the Prime Minister this morning, but don’t hold your breath waiting for an arrest. Last time we played cui bono on a major leak, we got it wrong because the ABC misled us about the origins of its “cabinet documents”, many of which weren’t cabinet documents. We suspect, however, that Quaedvlieg’s “salacious texts” weren’t found in an old filing cabinet.
Who benefits from damaging Quaedvlieg? Perhaps someone who wants the absurdly drawn out saga of his investigation brought to an end because it’s embarrassing the government and the immigration portfolio. Such people aren’t likely to be found in the Prime Minister’s portfolio, or the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, or the Attorney-General’s Department — which spent much of yesterday at estimates professing not to have a clue about the whole business. That narrows it down to the immigration portfolio. Problem is, no one in that portfolio ever drops stories to News Corp tabloids to suit their own interests. The mystery continues.
Foreign Story? Australian Corespondent? Are we about to see a dramatic change to the ABC’s Monday night line up? Talk from inside Aunty’s Ultimo bunker say that the venerable Australian Story and the wandering Foreign Correspondent are slated to start sharing the same timeslot. Some suggest the 8pm Monday slot, or Tuesday evening. The Monday slot is favoured because it is highest rating for ABC during the week.
The rationale appears to be Australian Story’s declining ratings and the desire to find a permanent home for Foreign Correspondent. Previous to that it had been broadcast on Tuesdays. Australian Story’s figures have fallen sharply in the past few years. For example, an episode that aired February 22, 2016 rated well, averaging 1.16 million viewers nationally. The national viewing figures this week dropped to 903,000. Meanwhile, Foreign Correspondent’s ratings have bounced around as the ABC moved it from different time slots, thought mostly they’ve been solid.
Some in the ABC say the two programs will see budgets, staff and facilities shared and the Australian Story budget suffer a big cut.
Shameless Cash-in. So it’s come to this: at Estimates this morning, Michaelia “Chuckles” Cash — the minister best known for appointing lawbreaker Nigel Hadgkiss to head the ABCC — grew frustrated at Labor questions about her staffing arrangements in light of the ongoing investigation into another highlight of her recent career, the leaking of a pending raid on the AWU to the media.
An agitated Cash told Labor’s Doug Cameron that if he wanted to ask questions about her staff, “be very very careful because I’m happy to sit here and name every young woman in Mr Shorten’s office over which rumours in this place abound … I will do it”. An hour later Penny Wong walked into the committee, gave Cash an almighty serve about these “outrageous slurs” and forced Cash to withdraw the remarks — which she did so “if anyone was offended”. Surely both sides know that the last thing voters want after the antics of recent weeks is a sleaze war in Canberra.