From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Is John Singleton backing Jones? The absence of John Singleton from the Alan Jones saga has been noted in Sydney radio circles, with rumours of a split between the two over the latest pay deal. In fact Macquarie Radio chairman Russell Tate has been the point man from the company in the story, not Singleton, the 70% owner of MRN. There are suggestions Singleton is backing Ray Hadley, the 2GB morning host in Sydney.

Neil Chenoweth hinted at the split on Tuesday in The Australian Financial Review, writing of Jones’ likely disappointment at the devaluing of his options. The talk in Sydney radio circles is the AFR story was close to the mark and that Singleton’s absence is conspicuous. Singleton’s reticence has come despite his horse More Joyous doing well in the Spring racing carnivals, an event which usually sees Singleton talking to anyone who will listen.

… and now 2GB could lose League. Meanwhile, the Rugby League radio contract remains unresolved which could be more bad news for Macquarie. The story goes the Australian Rugby League Commission was due to award the new contract to Fairfax Radio (owner of 2UE in Sydney) and not MRN. Fairfax took the Commission to Melbourne for an AFL game at the MCG and showed them the broadcast facilities for 3AW (which was calling a game). The visit is said to have been the clincher because Fairfax has more modern facilities than MRN which has under-spent in recent years.

The ARLC apparently held back the announcement after the Jones (“died of shame”) comments broke so as not to appear to be putting the boot into Macquarie or Jones. But expect an announcement soon. The next radio ratings will be issued on October 30 and will cover the Jones controversy — the most awaited ratings in Sydney since, well, the last atrocity by Kyle Sandilands.

Strange SA. Strange things are happening in South Australia’s federal political sphere, where the strongest performers look like being relegated to the bridesmaid’s position on their respective Senate tickets. You might think Finance Minister Penny Wong would enjoy the Number One position on Labor’s ticket, but no: that honour looks like going to faceless man Don Farrell, a Right factional hack who helped depose Kevin Rudd. Insiders say Wong is likely to be relegated to the Number Two spot. And you thought Labor was supposed to be encouraging strong, intelligent women! The ticket positions will be finalised on October 27, and we’re hearing Labor grumblings — particularly from left-factioners — about “Capability” Wong not heading the ticket. (The ALP looks likely to hold its two Senate spots.)

Meanwhile, in the Coalition bunker, the Number One position on the ticket is occupied by none other than Cory “the Beast” Bernardi, whose comments linking gay marriage with bestiality saw him demoted (for the second time — the same thing happened when Turnbull led the party). The Number Two spot goes to Simon Birmingham, shadow parliamentary secretary for the Murray-Darling Basin and the Environment. Birmingham, a moderate, is one of the most promising juniors in the Abbott squad and insiders reckon he may get a promotion after the election. The Libs are yet to preselect a candidate to take the Number Three spot, after Anne Ruston (who had won the spot) instead filled the seat vacated by Mary Jo Fisher.

All this will be most interesting to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young, who may have to fight the Liberals’ third candidate for her seat. SHY needed Labor preferences to fall over the line in 2007, and those could dry up in 2013. There’s some talk within the party about whether she’s a rather demanding boss (watch the staff turnover in her office).

The tourism motto for South Australia is “a brilliant blend” and Crikey could not agree more. If you have tips for us on the brilliant blend that is federal politics in SA, do get in touch. And you can stay anonymous

HSU No. 1 branch still awaiting AEC green light as No. 3 branch race heats up. The Australian Electoral Commission released last night its accepted nominations list for the looming elections at the Victorian No. 3 health professionals branch of the HSU. But no word yet on the bigger No. 1 branch, where, as Crikey reported on Monday, the makeup of the list seems headed to the Federal Court. Sources claim staunch Kathy Jackson ally Marco Bolano has been attempting various manoeuvres to have his rival Diana Asmar struck off the ballot paper, leading to fears that the postal vote, set down for November 2-23, could be delayed. An AEC spokesperson said today the process of validating the submitted nominations was continuing but was unable to put a precise timeframe on it.

The No. 3 election has had no such brake on its campaign, with another close Jackson associate, Fleur Behrens, taking on “Clean Sweep” candidate Craig McGregor for the paid secretary position. Clean Sweep recently uploaded this YouTube campaign video and is preparing to lodge a formal complaint, alleging Behrens’ ‘With Fleur We Can’ group had fallen foul of the Fair Work Act by using internal HSU email lists for campaigning purposes. McGregor is also exploring a possible defamation claim after Behrens’ wrote in promotional material that “our opponents do not have experience in bargaining or advocacy”. In fact, McGregor says, he has been involved in HSU bargaining teams “since Behrens was in high school”. Behrens did not respond to a request for comment on the stoush this morning.

Where did they start? Crikey has been having fun digging up photos from politicians’ pasts. We’ve already brought you a former Apple Queen, now in the House of Representatives. Look below for WA Labor Senator Louise Pratt (see her stylish 2012 pic here), courtesy of the Facebook page Lost Gay Perth. Pratt confirmed to Crikey that the pic was indeed of her, from her days as a student activist (Pratt has been a staunch defender of same-s-x rights, as evidenced by her recent speech to the Senate in support of gay marriage):

“Yes it’s me! So earnest and so young! Still earnest not so young any more. They were great days of campaigning. I never expected when that photo was taken that I would end up being an MP in both state and federal Parliaments, able to vote on the very issues I was campaigning on. Very fond of so many people from those campaigns — especially all the great parents from PFLAG who were very active.”

Got a photo from a pollie’s past which Crikey readers might like to see? Send in your pic here; extra points for crimes against fashion. Did Malcolm Turnbull have a perm at uni? Did Greg Combet always wear his superman glasses? There’s only one way to find out …

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