Reform is dead at COAG … Labor Gazette rolls on … Christopher Pyne takes charge … Julie Bishop acts — kind off — on schoolgirls …
From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Reform is dead at COAG. So much for all that policy reform via the Council of Australian Governments: Crikey hears COAG’s reform council secretariat will be among the cuts in next week’s federal budget. Staff in the Sydney office were informed yesterday. Know more? You know who to call …
Labor Herald rolls on. That “Crikey-style” Labor Party propaganda sheet is halfway to securing its editor. In a letter to the faithful, ALP national secretary George Wright says 226 “founding subscribers” have raised more than half of the $95,000 goal to pay its hired hack:
Did you see how the conservatives on Twitter jumped up and down when they heard we were fundraising for an editor for our new online Labor Herald? Apparently they weren’t fans of the idea, but a bit of Twitter hyperactivity won’t stop us. We’ve got 226 new founding subscribers and we’re more than half way to our fundraising goal of $95,000 for the position of editor.
Can you join our 226 new founding subscribers and help get our online news service up and running? You’ve already told us loud and clear that you want more factual information about what Tony Abbott and his Government are doing. The Labor Herald will play that role, but we need a content editor to make it all happen. An editor who will write useful, interesting articles for the site and pull together interesting content, including your own articles and comments.
We only need 124 more people chipping in $22.60 a month to get the online Labor Herald off the ground. Click here and say you’ll be one of our foundation subscribers and help make history. And if you say you want to join the other 226 foundation subscribers, we’ll keep you up-to-date with progress on getting the project started and when the service starts you’ll get daily news bulletins.
I believe it’s really important that we do this. We need our own news and we need a place where we can hear each other’s views.
You and I can make that happen.
Pyne takes charge. Meanwhile, we understand Education Minister Christopher Pyne has been personally poring over lists of recent Australian Research Council grants, to help him figure out a fresh way of eliminating the type of grants that don’t fit his paradigm. Watch this space.
Bishop acts — kind of — on schoolgirls. There’s been a strong response to yesterday’s Crikey story on what the Australian government had said and done — i.e. almost nothing — about the abduction of 250 Nigerian schoolgirls by a militant group that says it will sell them into slavery for trying to get an education. When the story was written there was no indication the Australian government had done or said anything much. Crikey put a media request to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and DFAT asking what Australia had done, but got no response. We also called the Nigerian High Commission in Canberra, but they didn’t respond to our query.
What did emerge, three hours after the Crikey story was published, was this media release from Bishop. It’s the first reference we’ve found from the Australian government to the kidnapping. The gist is that Bishop has:
” … asked the head of Counter Terrorism in DFAT to contact the Nigerian High Commissioner in Canberra to raise our concerns and offer our support. I have also asked Australia’s High Commissioner in Abuja to remain in close contact with the Nigerian Government regarding the abduction of the girls.”
This led to a bit of flak for Bishop on Twitter, with tweeters asking why it took three weeks for the Australian government to care. Bishop was narky in response, urging critics to “catch up” because Australia said something about it at the UN Security Council …
So how did those Twitter critics miss the UNSC comments? Check out the prominence Australia gave them here. Yup, you’ll be searching for a while. But carping aside, it’s good to see the Australian government is taking a belated interest in the fate of these 250 girls, who risk being sold into slavery and raped.
Dyncorp and NSW contracts. A Crikey reader was worried that the NSW state government had negotiated a contract with Dyncorp International — a controversial US company linked with labour smuggling, paying young Afghan boys to dance and botched construction work during reconstruction efforts for the Afghanistan War. Further digging uncovered a new agreement between Dyncorp International and Touchdown Helicopters. The latter is contracted to the NSW Rural Fire Service, to provide helicopters for firefighting efforts.
According to a press release, Touchdown Helicopters will supplement its own aircraft with those from Dyncorp International. A spokesperson for the NSW RFS clarified:
“Dyncorp International may provide helicopters to Touchdown Helicopters as part of a private arrangement between those two companies. As such, if the NSW RFS requires Touchdown Helicopters to provide aircraft during the upcoming bushfire season, Dyncorp International aircraft could be used in firefighting operations. There is no guarantee of work.”
‘Ancient’ Fraser still has it. It’s a relaxed and ever-more human Malcolm Fraser who’s out selling his latest book, Dangerous Allies, a provocative polemic about why Australia should abandon its formal alliance with the United States. When the 83-year-old former PM couldn’t hear a question from an audience member at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre last night, he asked his questioner to speak louder because “I’m ancient”. You might be ancient, shouted the questioner, but “I’m anxious”. Well, responded Fraser, you can stop being anxious, but “I can’t stop being ancient”.