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From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours…

Stone the flamin’ crows! Following on from our coverage of the Seven West Media’s EBA neogtiations, we’ve heard Seven could have an issue with the way it employs directors for some of its most popular shows.

We are told directors are not covered by the in-house EBA and are instead employed on five-week contracts to film two episodes per block. “Some of the directors do five to six blocks a year, i.e. they work for 30-40 weeks a year. Some have been working at Seven for 15-20 years and never had annual leave or long service leave because of the employment contract they sign,” our tipster tells us.

We’re told we ought to watch for future developments in this area. After recent cases have established more clearly the right of people misclassified as casuals to claim the benefits of permanent work, will contractors working regular hours use this as precedent? We contacted Seven and the Australian Directors’ Guild about the issue, but neither got back to us before deadline.

SMH and Nine move in together. A day was all it took for the company formerly known as Fairfax Media to start making cuts. But those fortunate enough to survive the scalpel could be in for a surprise. In an email sent to SMH staff, the company’s new owner indicated the paper would be leaving its Pyrmont home to move in with the Nine family in the new North Sydney HQ, which is slated to open in 2020.

This is truly a tragedy for Inner Westies over at the Herald, who were promised a swanky new CBD office after being squeezed out of Pyrmont by all-conquering tech behemoth Google, and will now be forced to commute Over the Bridge. Still, not everyone was complaining. As an SMH source told Ms Tips, “It’s not like Pyrmont is super convenient to get to”.

The Daley Gaffe. When Luke Foley resigned as NSW Labor leader after a sexual assault misconduct allegation, he left his successor Michael Daley with the monumental task of cleaning up the mess — one made more difficult as the public doesn’t know exactly who he is.

Well, it seems like the honchos at Sussex Street are in the same boat. A letter sent out to the party faithful gives renewing members the chance to win prizes, including a bottle of “parliamentary wine” (surely something of a cursed motif in NSW politics) signed by none other than opposition leader Luke Foley

They would do well to sharpen their word processing skills between now and March.

Losing the Fred Nile vote. Imagine the angst within the ALP when they opened today’s Australian to see an “exclusive” (of course) from Joe Kelly: Moussa Seecy, “a 51-year-old Maronite Christian who lives in the marginal Western Sydney seat of Lindsay”, won’t be voting Labor because he thinks it’s opposed to freedom of religion. 

“The No 1 priority for me is to do God’s will,” he told Kelly. Uh-oh — does that mean Labor’s chances of holding the ultra-marginal seat have taken a beating? Hmmm… turns out Seecy isn’t a Labor voter. In fact, he’s a member of Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats.

We know The Oz is desperate to push nonsense about religious freedom, but Seecy seems to demonstrate a different political lesson than the one drawn by Kelly. Labor won’t be unhappy with losing the Fred Nile vote (which it would never have got anyway), but why isn’t Seecy voting Liberal because ScoMo is coming in to save religious freedom?

NatCon shenanigans. This week, hundreds of aspiring faceless men and women from around the country congregated in Bendigo for the National Union of Students’ annual National Conference (“NatCon”). Nominally an opportunity for the peak body representing Australian university students to debate policy and advocate for young people, NatCon frequently descends into a shitshow. This year, was no exception, but after a week of jeers, heckling, mudslinging, and other such nastiness, one particularly bizarre incident stands out.

Yesterday, a motion was moved condemning Pauline Hanson’s notorious “it’s ok to be white” motion, which was “accidentally” supported by Coalition senators and has a long history as a white supremacist slogan. While the vote passed, it was opposed by an alliance of Liberals, and Student Unity (the youth faction of Labor Right). That will look great on the resume.  

#MuteRKelly? US R&B star R. Kelly announced his upcoming tour to Australia and New Zealand this morning, and the media has started speculating about whether he will be granted a visa. Why? As The Daily Telegraph put it, the singer has a history of “sleazy and salacious controversies”. 

The Tele did mention a second-degree battery conviction in the ‘90s, and referenced a documentary about sexual misconduct allegations against him in the last line, but R. Kelly in fact has a long history of allegations that may have warranted more attention. In 1994, a 27-year-old Kelly married rising R&B star Aaliyah, then 15, and has since settled several lawsuits concerning underage sexual abuse (though he denies any wrongdoing). Last year, BuzzFeed reported he was allegedly holding women hostage as part of a “cult”. 

Keep your eyes peeled for other coverage and announcements. Hit Network have excitedly announced the tour without any mention of the surrounding controversies.

Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected], use our guaranteed anonymous form or other ways to leak to us securely.

Peter Fray

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