No civil unions for MP of gay son. Four Labor Party MPs exercised their conscience and voted against the majority of their party on civil unions legislation during a heated debate in Queensland Parliament last night (the bill still passed, without any Liberal-National Party support, 47 to 40). One of those was a particular surprise to gay rights campaigners — Margaret Keech, the government Whip and member for Albert, has a gay son. As many have since pointed out — but nowhere in the media — Josh Keech has been an active member of the gay community in Sydney, having sat on the board of the New Mardi Gras organisation and volunteered for ACON and the Gay Lesbian Rights Lobby.

ALP caucuses meet. The ALP’s Left and Right national caucuses are bunkering down for four hour meetings in Sydney this afternoon ahead of National Conference tomorrow. Battle plans for tomorrow’s and Saturday’s tactics on g-y marriage, asylum seekers and uranium are expected to be tightly held.

Arts starve as government withholds cash. Arts bodies in NSW have their hands out for some $35 million they say has been promised but not delivered. And for some the cash is urgent. According to one insider: “Nearly 25 arts organisations are awaiting news of their triennial funding applications, with several organisations preparing to dip into contingency funds, reduce staff and reduce programs if funding is not confirmed by the year’s end.”

We’re told the groups waiting include: Accessible Arts, Arts On Tour, Artspace, Australian Centre for Photography, AusDance, Biennale of Sydney, big hArt, Critical Path, d/Lux, Flying Fruit Fly, Museums and Galleries NSW, MusicNSW, Object, Regional Arts NSW, Royal Australian Historical Society, and Information and Cultural Exchange Parramatta. “Still more organisations and individuals are waiting on funding results  for other funding rounds and have been waiting for six-plus months,” says our spy.

“Will the arts minister allow countless organisations to lay off staff, reduce programs and disrupt the financial stability of organisations by delaying the announcements further?” It’s a question worth asking the minister, George Souris — we’ll let you know.

Bullying at uni: more cases. More stories of bullying at Australian universities. This from a Queensland correspondent:

“Aggressive bullying and discriminatory management practices were so rife over a three-year period at James Cook University in Brisbane that it resulted in at least one known suicide and a mass exit of quality staff at all levels. Students also left in droves. My understanding is that staff at CQU Brisbane campus were treated in exactly the same manner.”

Another reader accuses one high-profile academic in Melbourne of regularly browbeating colleagues and making life difficult on campus during a period between 2003 and 2006:

“What made it more appalling was the complete lack of will by those with seniority to do anything about curtailing the behaviour. The dean at the time was a lovely man to work with, but completely lacked a backbone. He outright once told me he feared their connections to the media and potential to do the faculty and university harm. Indeed, this lack of  fortitude merely served to reinforce the behaviour. At the time it was unaffectionately known as the Toxic University. It’s had a couple of changes of vice-chancellor since, so let’s hope things have changed dramatically.”

Which way does lobbyist CPR swing? Can lobbying firms be judged by the people they follow on Twitter? One no-doubt rival of the firm CPR points out that for a supposedly bi-partisan operation its Twitter account is fed by 57 Labor MPs and just one Liberal — shadow treasurer Joe Hockey. Managing director Jayne Dullard is a former journalist and ABC radio producer.