Tell us what you earn and you'll get protection

A GREAT new avenue of industrial espionage has been opened up by the curious officials in the Immigration Department.

Angus MacDonald is the boss of Edinburgh Financial Publishing, the firm behind the Estimate Directory, and he decided to hire a new employee - a woman, who happened to be Australian.

So, she was dispatched to the Immigration Department - that office which manages to uniquely create the ambience of a dingy basement, despite being a third of the way up a skyscraper.

Upon her return, she said the department had decided she had omitted some rather interesting details.

'They want to know what everybody gets paid - all of us,' said a disbelieving Angus, whose firm employs 30 people.

He checked and was told that yes, the applicant would have to turn up with such a list in person - he couldn't simply send it by post - thus leaving Angus no option but to hand the list of names and salaries to the woman, despite the fact that she hadn't yet become a proper employee.

According to Immigration's Eric Chan, the department feels it can ask for such information in its role of 'protecting the local labour market'.

Quite why Angus was told the information had to be submitted via the employee herself remains a mystery, but anyone wanting to do a pay survey of a few banks, say, now has an easy way of getting the data.

Just get a foreigner to apply for a couple of jobs and get the person to call at a copy shop on the way to Immigration Tower.

Wet suits THE falling humidity and temperatures means it's the end of the season of air-con units dribbling their waste products from a great height.

So which building wins the Biggest Drips of '94 award? Chungking Mansion? Some other Nathan Road tenement pile? No. Our nomination goes to Beaconsfield House government offices.

When we passed it on Monday, at least five air-con units were piddling merrily away on the suits and handbags of the hard-working taxpayers walking past.

Clearly, the Government isn't worried about the fines threatened by the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance. And no wonder: the Regional Council hasn't issued a summons about dripping air-con units this year, and the Urban Council hasn't done anything about them since a burst of activity in 1992, when a blaze of summonses was issued.

Well, to be more precise, two summonses.

Perhaps we citizens ought to be issued with waterproof top hats to go with our white gloves.

Round one THE first legal action has emerged in the soap opera-like saga surrounding the management contract at Redhill Peninsula.

Seven companies claiming to represent other owners of the upmarket complex are suing management company Mightyton Property Management and its agents, Protech Property Management.

The writ, issued last week, represents an attempt to get the termination notices which were issued in September declared valid, and to get Mightyton and Protech to physically move off the estate, leaving behind the management funds.

One of the interesting things is that the names of the plaintiffs are, with one exception, companies - mostly lesser-known manufacturing concerns.

You thought Redhill Peninsula was a place for people to live? No way. It's a financial device allowing small companies unable to buy office buildings in Central to remain active in the property market.

Splash YESTERDAY'S piece about the International Herald Tribune putting a T-shirt vendor on its front page without realising the T-shirts carried obscene slogans, has evoked a number of warm memories of similar disasters from readers.

There was the small-scale American tourist promotion bureau, which sent brochures and posters worldwide without realising its main shot clearly showed two dogs frenziedly copulating in the middle of the road.

And there was the Australian magazine which ran a huge colour shot of rugby players conferring at a break in play, to launch its new sports coverage.

It was invisible to the journos in the office, but when blown up in the publication, it became clear that one player had partaken of too much pre-match orange juice, and was using the huddle of players as a cover while he relieved himself.