Flacks attack after media event goes awry. It was flacks at 10 paces in Canberra on Monday, with tensions rising between the offices of Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and the Transport Workers Union. As one spy tells it:
“Matthew Chesher — husband of former education minister Verity Firth and former chief-of-staff to David Borger until he was arrested for buying drugs prior to the last election — was in a row with former comrade Sam Wills over a media event on Monday. Wills formerly worked with Firth and is now with Albanese as a media adviser, while Chesher is now at the TWU with [federal secretary] Tony Sheldon. The minister pulled out of a media event five minutes before kick-off on Monday after panic in his office that he might be asked questions on Qantas. It left trucking industry representatives and bystanders wondering if there will be Christmas cards between the pair this year. The room was told media was being cleared of the fourth estate so there could be robust discussion, but Albo left as soon as his prepared speech was delivered and did not announce anything. Sheldon and Albanese have brushed it off, but the former mates who worked together in Borger’s office are not happy with each other and one reminded the other that he was no longer her boss.”
The event marked the government’s commitment to legislate a “safe rates” scheme as a safety net for trucking operators against unscrupulous customers — something the union has long campaigned for and publicly admonished the government on for not acting sooner. While media weren’t allowed in, somehow an “exclusive” splash appeared in The Daily Telegraph the next day. Another participant on the day tells Crikey:
“So perhaps the Qantas excuse was simply a ploy to keep it all under wraps and go for maximum exposure by giving it directly to the Tele? What I don’t get is why would they bother? The rag shits on them every day, yet Albo’s office bent over backwards to give it first dibs on safe rates. And Wills kept the TWU in the dark on what it was doing which has really pissed off the upper echelons of the federal branch.”
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As soon as word filtered through that Albanese was leaving the union in the lurch by not doing media, Bill Shorten happily stepped into the role and gave the union and the tribunal a plug to local media (Win TV). Not that the TWU minds; one union player was heard to comment: “This guy is a future leader of the Labor Party.” And maybe the TWU did get in Albanese’s ear — he took a Dorothy Dixer in parliament yesterday to talk up the new tribunal and pay “particular tribute to those people in the Transport Workers Union”.
Why the cancer foundation rejected donations. As we told you yesterday, the Prostate Cancer Foundation is sticking by the Movember rally — despite the homophobic comments of its boss Jeff Kennett — rejecting the offer of donations from rival gay-friendly group Fauxvember. The foundation has had to do some damage control, with CEO Dr Anthony Lowe saying while they “appreciate” the support “we need to honour and focus on our official partnership with Movember”.
Dr Lowe says they work with Movember on gay issues, including the Gay and Bis-xual Men’s Prostate Cancer Initiative: “Even though PCFA has made the decision to not be a beneficiary for the Fauxvember initiative, we would be pleased to have open discussions with Fauxvember organisers on future opportunities and receive future funding support provided it does not conflict with our partnership with Movember.”
Gossip recycled on Greens Xmas cards. We’re happy to report — despite vicious rumours Crikey heard to the contrary — that Greens MP Sarah Hanson-Young’s Christmas cards are, in fact, printed on recycled paper. “The cards have been printed on mega recycled silk paper, 50% post consumer waste recycled,” the Senator assures us. “Santa doesn’t visit nasty, gossipy boys and girls.” Fair enough, too.
Arts festivals clash on March dates. Plans by the Melbourne Festival to shift its annual event from October to February or March from 2014 have put some offside. There were reports earlier this week the Adelaide Festival, staged in March, didn’t like the idea of a clash. And now we hear concerns from Melbourne arts groups it could seriously jeopardise their financial well-being. Crikey arts writer Ben Eltham is on the case, but as one insider tells us:
“Most companies, both from the Major Performing Arts group and small organisations, begin their seasons at that time of the year and rely heavily on income from the Melbourne market. Discussions are currently under way with all arts companies affected, but the festival and bureaucrats from Arts VIC are standing their ground.”
Age becomes child-proof. An update from The Age‘s Media House:
Staff Update …
Media House hot and cold water dispensers
In order to help prevent the accidental activation of the hot water levers in the staff break-out areas of Media House, the child safety button will be soon be activated. To receive hot water, staff will need to press both the safety button and the hot water lever together.
Still waiting for Hadley’s explanation. Our story on how 2GB loud mouth Ray Hadley concocted a story on former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery uncovered more dirt on Hadley’s program. All off the record, of course, fearing his wrath. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for him to return our call and explain the situation. We’re here all day, Ray. Pick up the phone.
Meanwhile, we received this anonymous tip this morning: “If you go after Hadley, you better get it right the first time or he will make you look like a goose!” Noted.