From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

We’re Woolworths, the Abbott people. “On special in aisle nine, a chaff bag to put the Prime Minister in and drop her out to sea!” An interesting little sideshow in the latest Alan Jones furore is the love-in between Jones, the Woolworths media gulag and Tony Abbott. Woolworths government affairs manager Simon Berger (who was a Howard staffer) is in hot water for donating a “chaff-bag jacket” to the Young Libs dinner at which Jones made his remarks about Julia Gillard’s father dying of shame at her political lies. The jacket is an hilarious pun on Jones’ comment that Gillard should be “put in a chaff bag and thrown into the sea”.

Well, Berger’s jacket move forced Woolworths spokeswoman Claire Kimball to clarify that he had attended the dinner in a private capacity. That’s Kimball, who was a long-term and trusted adviser to Tony Abbott. Woolies has, of course, advertised on Jones’ show (although they’ve decided to stop that for a while). Should any Crikey reader be heading to Woolies, please do go to the counter and ask where the chaff bags are. Let us know what they say. We’d also love to know who bought the chaff bag at the dinner.

Meanwhile, Crikey us curious to see who’s the first pollie to turn up on Alan Jones’ show. Short odds on Cory Bernardi and Barnaby Joyce, but perhaps Abbott will join his old friend for a chat soon?

Is there pork in Campbell’s soup? We’ve heard from a George Street insider who reckons there’s some pork barrelling going on with the Queensland government’s sports grants. Applications for the grants have just opened, but our mole claims money “has been earmarked to four clubs within the Ashgrove electorate” (that’s the Premier’s electorate). Apparently this is “there on paper” in a document. It seems this tip relates to the “Get in the Game” funding, which provides grants of up to $100,000. Applications close November 12.

We put this to the spokeswoman for Queensland Sports Minister Steve Dickson, who said this:

“This report is completely incorrect, no Get in the Game funding has been earmarked for any club. As is outlined on page 57 of the 2012-13 budget measures, the Ashgrove GPS Rugby club will be provided with increased funding of $100,000 toward the construction of new dressing sheds and storage rooms — this is completely separate to the Get in the Game program.”

So it seems there’s no pork in Campbell’s soup — unless someone can send us that document. Anonymity guaranteed.

Bureaucrats doing the hard yards. Crikey is interested in whether bureaucrats are flying economy with the rest of us, in line with a Penny Wong edict. We’d also like to know if Defence has fat to cut or is cash-strapped. Here are some of the responses (keep them coming by emailing us here, and you can stay anonymous🙂

“The SES (i.e. executive) in Defence are still flying Business Class, ignoring the “Best Fare of the Day Rules”, shunning Virgin and having their Qantas Club memberships paid for by the department. The rest of us are wasting hours each trip to save a few bucks by being forced to take the cheapest flight available whether it gets us where we need to be at the right time or not.

“Regarding Defence spending, Defence in Brisbane is buying their officers iPads and iPods so “they won’t be bored” on flights. Also they spend $400 per week on Foxtel so they can monitor CNN, and other news broadcasts. Obviously they haven’t heard of the web! Another example is on an Army exercise, a coffee machine and barista were brought in for the Commander and his staff (usually about 20) for a two-week exercise in Canungra.”

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

Peter Fray

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