Alexander Downer people's choice brexit

From the Crikey grapevine, it’s the latest tips and rumours …

The Downer has spoken. Former foreign minister Alexander Downer has, to the extent anyone still pays attention, made a new reputation for himself post retirement. First, he was a writer of — quite staggeringly poor, given his pedigree — columns for The Australian Financial Review, which combined being a standard reactionary, being a standard “guy in his late 60s who doesn’t get social media” and being a standard entitled prig on Twitter and Facebook. He has now channelled many of those traits into his Brexit commentary, tweeting on Wednesday: “If there’s a second referendum on Brexit and Brexit wins, what’s the @peopleschoice plan then?”

One can only assume he means the “people’s vote” movement, a pro-Remain group advocating for another public referendum, this time between whatever deal UK Prime Minister Theresa May puts forward and just remaining in the EU. Of course, we’re only guessing, because the account he’s tagged belongs to entertainment news website E! Online’s people’s choice awards, which decides on issues like “Adele’s greatest costumes” or “best red carpet looks” the only fair way: by letting the public decide.

And to be fair, we’re not sure if E! Online actually has adequately planned for the possibility that the British public may reassert their desire to leave the EU. Clearly, Downer puts a lot of thought into this (more so than, I don’t know, checking on the actual names of organisations he’s criticising). It’s not even the first time he’s asked questions of E! Online’s political naivety: late last year he asked whether they would stand in the way of a second Scottish referendum. Again, this man is a former Australian High Commissioner to the UK. 

What’s going on at the Victorian State Revenue Office? The SRO is a finalist in the Institute of Public Administration Australia’s  “leading employer award“. But clearly not everyone working there is happy. One tipster got in contact to claim that the organisation has an “ongoing crisis with bullying in the office”,  saying the SRO had spent “more than a million dollars of taxpayer money on legal fees fighting one single employee” over a procedural fairness dispute.

The tipster also alleged that “HR staff are now refusing to provide advice to staff members whose fixed term contracts are coming to an end and unsure whether the new proposed restructure provides them with ongoing employment”.

We asked the State Revenue Office if they had any ongoing bullying or unfair dismissal claims, and they were unequivocal: “No,” a spokesperson told us. “We do not tolerate bullying behaviour in the workplace.” 

“Last year the Victorian State Budget announced funding for the State Revenue Office to expand its compliance program. This means we can offer a significant number of fixed term staff the opportunity to take up ongoing employment. Fixed term staff who are eligible for conversion to an ongoing role have been advised.” 

Samios, Samios. It sounds like The Australian has finally found someone who’ll work for its media section. After several departures last year, word was that the Oz was struggling to find someone to fill positions, which included replacing Stephen Brook as its popular media diarist (we’d heard that those approached included The Australian Financial Review’s Aaron Patrick). But according to The Sydney Morning Herald’s CBD column this week, one lucky new media writer is Mumbrella’s Zoe Samios, who has been writing about buyers for the media and marketing industry website for about two years. Last year the media section lost Stephen Brook, its editor Darren Davidson and media writer Dana McCauley, with Lilly Vitorovich appointed as a new media writer. We didn’t hear back from the Oz before deadline today.

Here’s to you, Tommy Robinson. On Monday, Crikey brought you a depressingly necessary update on the far right’s activities in Australia. As we noted at the time, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes had been due to tour the country early this year. His co-headliners were to be Tommy Robinson — jail bird, English Defence League founder and anti-Islam campaigner — and glittering fascist Milo Yiannopoulos. McInnes had his visa revoked after a long public campaign, but no one seems to have told Robinson, who’s still promoting the tour with an unchanged line-up.

According to the website, punters can stump up between 85 and 1000 bucks to attend (or have dinner with) the “deplorables”. Aside from McInnes’ legal inability to enter the country, there’s also the fact the tour is being organised by Penthouse owner Damien Costas, with whom Yiannopoulos had a major falling out last year. Yiannopoulos has given no public indication, that we can find, that he intends to return to Australia next month. Has anyone told Tommy? Perhaps more importantly, shouldn’t someone tell the unfortunate punters willing to stump up the cash thinking they’re getting Destiny’s Child, when only Michelle is going to show up?

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