PM&C holding up more appointments … Imported anti-Muslims in Bendigo … Offensive comments are way to go …
From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Coalition HQ in command. Lately we’ve been passing on frustrations from inside the Coalition at Abbott’s team interfering in many senior appointments, leading to delays. Some think Team Credlin (sorry, Team Abbott) should give greater responsibility to ministers to make these decisions, and allow the government to get on it.
Now we’ve heard the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) is blocking the process of appointing people to key roles at the ABC and SBS. PM&C is supposed to appoint a nomination panel to ensure the process is merit-based, but it hasn’t. We’re hearing people have been waiting since March and are “pissed off” at the unnecessary layers of process being applied.
And watch out — last time we told you about this, in relation to long delays in appointing the judges for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, the end result was Gerard Henderson in charge. Maybe Crikey’s April Fool’s Day joke about Sophie Mirabella chairing the SBS board will turn out to be correct after all?
Not actually NIMBYs’ backyard. Bendigo locals tell Tips that many of the protesters who filled a local council meeting on Wednesday night aren’t actually from the regional city, but are from out-of-town anti-Islam groups. More than 350 people attended the meeting, with many vocally protesting against the planning approval of a mosque on the edge of town. The group has even enlisted international help — according to the “Stop the Mosque in Bendigo” Facebook page, the group is being advised by Gavin Boby, a self-styled “mosque-buster” from the UK who claims to have stopped 16 mosques being built. Know more about the out-of-towners? Drop us a line.
A tipster also brought our attention to one of the anti-mosque speakers at the council meeting, Anita Donlon — the Palmer United Party candidate for the seat of Bendigo at last year’s federal election who may still be involved with the party as Victorian state co-ordinator. Donlon wouldn’t confirm if she was still involved with PUP saying:
“My view is my own and does not and has not been endorsed or carry any view of any political party. It is my right to belong to which ever political party I see fit and support that party. It is my right and my will to express my views to issues pertaining to the community and the country I live in.”
PUP didn’t get back to us before deadline to confirm whether Donlon was still involved in the party. Donlon told Crikey that she was not one of the organisers of the protest and that a report in the Bendigo Weeklycalling her such was “being addressed by [her] lawyer”. Donlon also ran as a state Liberal candidate in 2010 and was one of the organisers of the Convoy of No Confidence rally in 2011.
An open-and-closed case. Academic circles are murmuring about how quickly applications opened and closed for a $42 million project funded by the Australian Research Council. Proposals for the Special Research Initiative for Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University opened on May 30 and closed on June 3 after the funding was announced in last month’s budget. An ARC spokesperson tells us the funding is due to start in the 2013-2014 financial year so the application time had to be shorter to allow for the full assessment process to happen before the end of this month. We’ve crammed for some essays and applications in our academic years, but three days to write a proper research proposal, over a weekend, seems a big ask — we wonder if anyone got their applications in at all.
Assange anything but bored. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) forum last night, and became quite haughty when asked if he ever got bored holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been avoiding extradition to Sweden for two years. Assange answered very few questions in the AMA (to the ire of some participants), but took the time to let the questioner know that he is, in fact, very busy and important:
“I only wish there was a risk of boredom in my present situation. Besides being the centre of a pitched, prolonged diplomatic standoff, along with a police encirclement of the building I am in and the attendant surveillance and government investigations against myself and my staff, I am in one of the most populous cities in Europe, and everyone knows my exact location. People visit me nearly every day. I also continue to direct a small multinational organisation, WikiLeaks, which is a serious logistical and occupational endeavour. I barely have time to sleep, let alone become bored.”
iSentia back to normal. We received a few tips this week telling us that media intelligence company iSentia was having tech difficulties. iSentia tracks and monitors news from across the media and also supplies quantitative and qualitative media analysis. An iSentia spokesperson confirmed that there have been a few issues, but they’re onto it:
“We did experience service interruptions on Wednesday, with broadcast issues continuing into Thursday. We’ve been in regular contact with our clients during these issues, our monitors capturing all their content and our client service teams alerting them directly. For us it reinforces the importance of a very strong client service and human monitoring infrastructure that ensures continuing service if ever technological issues arise, but of course we will also be conducting a full IT review to minimise the risk of these issues arising again.”
Don’t read the comments. Although we are quite fond of Crikey’s commenters, we know that online comment sections have a tendency to get quite rude and aggressive, which is why we found these instructions from The Age’s mobile site quite amusing. When our tipster posted this comment on Wednesday, the confirmation window said “comments are usually published when they are on topic and offensive”. We’ll remember that next time we’re trying to comment on The Age.