From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Coalition’s untalkative talking points. Coalition MPs were today provided with 43 dot points on the carbon tax from CHQ to raise in media interviews, but the daily document was less forthcoming on the exciting and colourful news of LNP preselections in Queensland. MPs were instructed to comment only “if asked”, and were given just two meagre dot points to rely on. The first one was:

  • These are matters for the Queensland LNP.

Which is frankly unsporting, given the newsworthiness of Mal Brough, Clive Palmer, et al. We also notice MPs were also given no pointers on what to say if asked about Sophie Mirabella’s reaction to Simon Sheikh fainting on Q&A.

Age man gets feet under the desk. The Age has wasted no time transitioning to its new leadership team. With Paul Ramadge out the door, new editor-in-chief Andrew Holden was seen in his first news conference yesterday. We’re told the mood was suitably buoyant. The paper, however, seemed a little light-on to us …

CarbonWatch #1: lawyers cash in. Lawyers have a reputation for charging like wounded bulls, so it’s no surprise some are enjoying the carbon tax. Crikey hears a Tasmanian law firm is putting up its hourly rates to factor in the tax. Which is interesting, because Tasmania is mainly fired by hydro power, which will not cost more under the tax.

Our source, from the legal profession, has decided not to report the firm to the ACCC “as I imagine their private paying clients would do it themselves”.

Crikey is seeking to have a chat to the firm in question; perhaps they have a large coal-fired power station in their backyard? We’ll get back to you.

CarbonWatch #2: Lucky you’re with AAMI? We hear that AAMI has raised prices on its home insurance policies by $200 in some instances, with customers told by AAMI staff that the carbon tax was among the reasons.

A Crikey journalist rang the AAMI call centre, identified themselves as a journalist and asked about the price rise. We were told staff had been given “a whole list of things” to tell customers the increases could be attributed to.  The AAMI representative confirmed that the carbon tax was “of course” one of them.

The call then got passed up the line and Crikey ended up with this written response from AAMI’s corporate affairs manager:

I don’t know who the AAMI representative was that you spoke to, but they were very much speaking out of turn and very much wrong.

We have not adjusted our pricing due to the Carbon Tax.

CarbonWatch #3 “JULIAR”. Yesterday’s inaugural entry in CarbonWatch — where Crikey keeps tabs on surprising, amusing and downright dodgy retailer responses to the carbon tax — was Gold Coast i-Pod accessory firm CaseBuddy. The firm offered a discount to customers who used the code “JULIAR”, in order to “celebrate the government’s tax on the fourth most abundant element in the entire universe”.

CaseBuddy got back to Crikey to say it had scrapped the ad, and while “JULIAR” still netted a 10% discount, the alternative code of “CARBONFOOTPRINT” would attract double the discount, “as an apology”.

There’s plenty more fodder out there for CarbonWatch, with reports on social media of a local pool levvying a “carbon dioxide tax” of 20 cents, coffee joints raising their per cup prices by 30 cents on Monday, and claims of laundry bills going up. Got a good tip of carbon tax-related price gouging or silliness? Let us know.

“Race to the bottom” at APN? More concerns have surfaced from insiders at APM’s educational media unit. At least three senior staff have left recently, and we’ve heard a fourth is to go — Darragh O Keeffe, who edits Aged Care Insight and Education Review. One source tells Crikey the departures reflect “staff disillusionment with the apparent ‘race to the bottom’ editorially by new management”, and claims more staff are preparing to leave.

Some insiders think APN’s GM David Williams and fellow senior staffer (and automotive guru) John Cadogan are implementing a “1990s trade magazine approach”, focusing on shorter stories and larger pictures.

Crikey has asked Williams for comment and is awaiting a response. He recently told Crikey that APN is “actively looking to recruit fresh new talent to pursue the significant growth opportunities in our markets”. APN also produces Nursing Review and Campus Review.

More excitement from Fisher. Mal Brough’s tilt for LNP preselection for Queensland’s federal seat of Fisher — held by stood-aside speaker Peter Slipper — has been challenged by young gun James McGrath, who has thrown his hat in the ring.

The globe-trotting McGrath has chalked up some remarkable political successes, abroad and in Queensland, but was sacked as chief political adviser for the Tory mayor of London Boris Johnson over immigration-related comments he made in 2008.

Here is the except from the interview in The Latest.com:

McGrath was far from politically correct, David-Cameron-new-cuddly-Conservative Party, when I pointed out to him a critical comment of Voice columnist Darcus Howe that the election of  “Boris Johnson, a right-wing Conservative, might just trigger off a mass exodus of older Caribbean migrants back to our homelands”.

He retorted:  “Well, let them go if they don’t like it here.” McGrath dismissed influential race commentator Howe as  “shrill”.

The Guardian picked up the quotes and McGrath ended up out of a job.

*Do you know more? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed-anonymous form

Peter Fray

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