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Everyone wants a piece of Bluey – even the Morrison government is falsely claiming credit

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<span>Photograph: Ludo Studio/AP</span>
Photograph: Ludo Studio/AP

Government falsely takes credit for Bluey

Bluey, the Emmy award-winning children’s television show, is a smash hit for ABC Kids and has won the hearts of families Australia-wide.

So it’s no surprise the pre-school television sensation has everyone claiming a small part of it.

But we were taken aback when the federal communications minister, Paul Fletcher, made Bluey part of his budget announcement when neither the program nor the ABC received additional funding on Tuesday night.

“Further funding of $11.9m over four years from 2021-22 and $3.0m ongoing, will be provided to the Australian Children’s Television Foundation … [which] has played a pivotal role in the success of iconic Australian programs, such as Round the Twist and Dance Academy, and more recent productions including Bluey, Hardball and Little J and Big Cuz,” the minister said in his official release.

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We checked and ACTF played no role in the making or funding of Bluey, which is an ABC-BBC commission created by Joe Brumm with Queensland production group Ludo Studio.

Did Fletcher fail to check with ACTF before making the claim, we wondered?

Well, the foundation has confirmed the minister did not run the information past them. But ministerial staff do not admit making a mistake.

“The ACTF did not provide financial support for Bluey but is a strong advocate for quality children’s content including actively supporting the success of Bluey through lots of positive endorsement and publicity, as an excellent example of Australian’s children’s content,” a spokesperson said. “Also, the government is proud that it has been able to support the production of Bluey through the ABC and Screen Australia.”

Home affairs issued media pass to far-right agitator

The far-right agitator Avi Yemini has been trying to style himself as a journalist since getting a gig as Rebel News’ Australian correspondent. Rebel News is a far-right Canadian website – a former home of occasional Sky News contributor Lauren Southern and One Nation’s Mark Latham – known for its anti-Muslim ideology.

In January Yemini was ejected from Australia Day protests, loudly claiming that he had attended the rally with “federal accreditation from the government”.

“I am right now in the back of a police car,” he said in a video posted on YouTube. “I’ve been arrested for what they allege is a breach of the peace. The breach was that I attended the so-called Invasion Day protest to report. To do my job.”

In February he was ejected from a Dan Andrews press conference after initially being let into the grounds of parliament by flashing his media pass at security. In a video of the incident an officer escorting him out can be heard telling him he is being removed because he had a “fake” pass.

Related: Clive Palmer and Kerry Stokes paper rapped for spreading Covid vaccine misinformation | Weekly Beast

We took a closer look at the pass Yemini flashed at the camera in January and it’s a National Visits Media Card (NVMC), which “identifies the holder as a person with a legitimate media interest in the visit of a foreign dignitary”.

In other words it’s a special pass usually issued to working media covering a royal or a perhaps presidential visit. So how did Yemini, a serial pest and a convicted criminal, get one? How does someone who has described himself as “the world’s proudest Jewish Nazi” and has been banned from Facebook repeatedly get media accreditation from the federal government?

Apart from the argument that Yemini should not qualify as a journalist, he was convicted and fined in 2019 on charges of unlawful assault against his ex-wife, using a carriage service to harass on three occasions and breaching a personal safety order.

A spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs confirmed the government had issued a pass to Yemini – because he passed an ID check and worked for a “registered media organisation” – but it had now been cancelled.

“The National Visits Media Card identifies the holder as a person with a legitimate media interest in the visit of a foreign dignitary,” a spokesman told Weekly Beast.

“NVMC cards are issued following a 100 points of identification check, conducted through Australia Post and sponsorship by a registered media organisation.

“Mr Yemini’s attendance at the Australia Day demonstrations in Melbourne is not associated with an official visit by a foreign dignitary and is an inappropriate use of the National Visits Media Card.

“In accordance with the Conditions of Issue and Use of the NVMC, Mr Yemini’s National Visits Media Card has been cancelled.”

Yemini was approached for comment.

News Corp’s last photographers let go

The last of the News Corp Australia staff photographers – who once numbered over 100 when print was king – are on their way out.

Sources say around eight newspaper photographers who work for the Geelong Advertiser, the NT News, the Hobart Mercury and regional Queensland mastheads the Townsville Bulletin, the Gold Coast Bulletin and the Cairns Post were called in to meetings with management this week and told their positions were being made redundant. They will be replaced by freelancers but they can buy their staff photography equipment at discounted prices and come back to work as outsourced labour.

The company has been moving towards a freelance model for photography for several years and last June let go its multiple Walkley-award winning chief photographer Gary Ramage. Ramage was the company’s only remaining staff photographer in Canberra after the departure of veteran photographer Ray Strange. In November, News Corp lost 16 photography positions as part of a round of 25 job cuts.

The move follows the merger of dozens of Rupert Murdoch’s regional newspapers with the state mastheads in the past 12 months. “This completes our rollout of the freelance model for our photography and the way it’s commissioned,” a News Corp spokesperson said.

Regional mergers finally confirmed

But it’s not all bad news for News Corp, which boasted a good set of numbers at its quarterly earnings briefing in New York last week.

Related: News Corp Australia merges more than 20 regional newspapers with capital city mastheads

The News Corp Australasia chief executive, Michael Miller, told staff the results meant the company could create another 100 roles this year, including 30 cadets in the first national cadet program and 20 new positions on digital mastheads in regions and communities. It’s understood the remaining 50 roles may involve moving existing staff into newly-created positions in data, audio, visual and video journalism, sports and regional.

A couple of mastheads – the Sunshine Coast Daily and Mackay’s Daily Mercury are bucking the digital-only trend and returning to print, for a trial at this stage.

After initially denying there had been any mergers, the company finally confirmed our story about mergers. “Over the past month, the websites of many of our regional mastheads have been combined with our state mastheads in NSW and Queensland,” Miller said.

Tributes paid to ‘the man from the news’

Queensland has lost a legend of TV news, Frank Warrick, who died this week aged 76.

Warrick was part of Channel Seven Brisbane for four decades, from 1976 until his retirement in 2001. But he was also known to Queenslanders as the man from the news for his frequent visits to primary schools in the Seven News helicopter.

The director of Seven News in Brisbane, Neil Warren, said Warrick changed the way TV news was delivered in Queensland, going live on air for hours on end with breaking news. “He was the ultimate newsman and what he pioneered back then, continues with our team today,” Warren said.

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, offered condolences to his family in parliament, saying Warrick had been a “welcome guest” in the state’s homes for decades.

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Kay McGrath, who co-hosted the news with Warrick for 13 years in the 1980s and 90s, said her former colleague was a consummate professional.

“Live TV can be a challenging environment at times, but we always had each other’s backs,” McGrath said. “I never saw him fazed or flustered on air. He taught me a lot and I’m very saddened to hear he’s left ‘this world around us’.”

Network director of news and public affairs, Craig McPherson, said Warrick was “one of the greats”.

“He forged an on-air partnership with Kay that became appointment viewing, setting up a golden period for the 6pm news and the Seven Network in Queensland. A wonderful presenter and tremendous mentor to so many.”