Who was the woman from the Australian Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka who visited recently deported Indika Mendis in Negombo Prison on Tuesday? Eyewitness report has it that that she left in tears because he had been so obviously and so badly beaten.

After standing side-by-side with his leader yesterday professing his loyalty, Joe Hockey was out locking in the support of Liberal moderates, speaking at a fundraiser for Senator Marise Payne at Penrith Panthers in Lindsay last night. Given that Payne is not up for re-election and a Liberal candidate in Lindsay has not yet surfaced, guests were left wondering who the funds were being raised for.

After having to shelve its secret plan to abolish its $20,000 sponsorship of the prestigious Graham Perkin Award for Australian Journalist of the Year last year following embarrassing leaks to Crikey, comes word that The Age is again secretly trying to slash prize money for the award. The secretive push to downgrade the award to the status of the Melbourne-based Grant Hattam Award (named after the defamation lawyer who represented the Herald and Weekly Times), is part of further cost cutting.

Fairfax Media without any warning has pulled stumps on the best paper that Colac has ever had. Quote from page two of last edition:

Fairfax Media will cease publishing the free weekly papers, Colac Extra and Corangamite Extra, from this week. While these publications have been well received by readers and advertisers in their markets, they have struggled for viability in a challenging economic climate. Fairfax Media would like to thank readers and advertisers for their support of the publications.

This is a great pity because the paper through its reporter Everard Himmelreich was a true community publication, which in the words of Everard “provided another way for the Colac Community to learn about itself and she its rich diversity and the issues that shape its robust community spirit”. Don’t often get this from media monopolies. Hoping to mount a campaign to get the paper back!

Sometime today, Friday, the Australian Conservation Foundation is due to announce the outcome for the election of its 34 member Council. Director Don Henry’s support for the Rudd Government’s CPRS legislation has enraged many members who want to see ACF return to the fold of the environment movement and the election has been dominated by this issue.

ACF stands out as supporting the legislation, while the Wilderness Society, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the hundreds of new climate action groups are opposed. Critics blame Henry for being too close to Labor via his relationship with ex-President Peter Garrett and for linking himself closely to the Southern Cross Coalition which supports the legislation.

The Coalition is made up of the ACTU with its Labor links, ACOSS which is now led by former Labor Chief Minister Claire Martin, and independent think-tank, the Climate Institute, whose Director is close to Garrett. Predictions are that the new Council will provide headaches for ACF Director Henry, with a number of high-profile anti-CPRS personalities likely to be elected. Watch out for results in the ACT and Victoria in particular.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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