From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Fed-up Zed? Canberrans are heading to the polls tomorrow to vote in the ACT election, with polls showing the Liberals have their work cut out for them to win more seats and threaten the Labor-Green government. So what was ACT Liberal leader Zed Seselja doing in Parliament House (the federal version) yesterday? Shouldn’t he have been out on the hustings? More than one curious tipster spotted Seselja:

“Seselja cut a lonely figure at Aussies Café in Parliament House this morning. He was there by himself for at least 20 minutes. Lining up for their morning coffee, staffers from all sides of politics were wondering why he was wasting his time sitting there doing nothing just two days out from the ACT poll.”

“Seselja was at Parliament House this morning for a meeting, possibly with Tony Abbott’s staff. The tip is that if Seselja loses the election this Saturday he’s going to go after Gary Humphries’ Senate spot. The Liberals haven’t held preselections for the ACT Senate places yet. Seselja is from the ACT right which has the numbers in the ACT branch.”

Seselja, who is young and energetic, has stabilised the ACT Liberals, but may steward them to a so-so result in the Labor-lovin’ town tomorrow. (Canberrans can only bring themselves to vote Liberal at the territory level if someone like former chief minister and “Liberal lite” Kate Carnell is at the helm.) So will Seselja make a tilt at federal politics? If you have the inside goss, let us know.

Busy backbencher. Kevin Rudd heads to Germany and the UK next week — we hear he’ll be speaking at Oxford University to “an audience of (mostly Australian, mostly postgraduate) uni students”. Apparently interest is running high in certain UK circles. Rudd is certainly busy in the international speakers’ circuit for a humble backbencher. Does he have plans to move onwards and upwards? Drop us a line, and feel free to stay anonymous.

A wedding is announced. We hear that HSU figure Kathy Jackson and her beau, Fair Work Australia vice-president Michael Lawler, are to marry in May next year in Massachusetts. An invitee reckons at least two dozen friends and family members have been offered an all-expenses-paid trip to the wedding celebration and — perhaps disturbingly — to the honeymoon in Italy.

Fairfax keeps alive the long lunch. This tip comes from a “newshound” about the Australian Financial Review/Financial Times lunch in Sydney yesterday (the paper covered it extensively today):

“Just who was filing for the AFR yesterday? Yesterday’s AFR/FT lunch series with UK economist Martin Wolf was stacked with Fairfax and Fin heavyweights. Corbett, Clegg, Hywood, Stutch and hacks Hewitt, Ahmed, Chessell, Gray and Boyd amongst a cast of newsroom hangers-on. If the Fairfax board wants to do something for its sinking (and stinking) share price, cutting back on overpriced fat cat lunches at Ivy could be a good start.”

Which just seems mean to us. Aren’t they allowed to eat? Meanwhile, another spy at the lunch reports:

“James Packer was looking pretty sharp and trimmed down at the AFR lunch in Sydney, which caught the eye of many of the ladies on our table at the event. But the other talking point was who was the younger man James was getting all touchy and feely with at his table by the end of the lunch. Shoulder rubs and arm brushes certainly raised a few eyeballs with onlookers. A trimmed down Packer appeared to be attracting eye fluttering from both genders in the room.”

We blushed on his behalf.

Newspaper free-for-all (cont). We’re always interested in the practice of editors giving away newspapers; here are some more examples from readers of where you can get a paper for free (even if you don’t really want one). When leaving a flick at Event Cinemas, Innaloo (WA) one tipster was presented with a free stack of The Sunday Times. It’s classier fare at Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia, where only broadsheets were handed out for free. You’ll get a free Sydney Morning Herald at Taronga Zoo (although if it’s animal pics you like, they should be handing out The Daily Telegraph). The Courier-Mail costs zilch at the QantasLink lounge of the Brisbane Domestic Airport. And one tipster recounted this tale of commercial silliness:

“You get a free West Australian when you buy a Muzz Buzz coffee (drive through) in Mosman Park, WA. Last weekend I tried to buy a copy at the local service station, but by the time I’d got there they’d sold out. But when I subsequently headed out for coffee, they gave me a free one. Why had everyone bought them when they could just get them for free up the road? (Me, I’m lazy. Maybe they are too.)”

This left us wondering about the wisdom of freebies when you could be selling those papers. We asked around for the minimum spend you need to get your free paper, and the coffee mentioned above (let’s say $3.50, although if it’s WA it might be $5) might be it. Unless you’re well-connected: “At Canberra’s Belconnen markets you have to spend a minimum of $5 to get a freebie, unless you know the checkout operator.”

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

Peter Fray

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