From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Dirty tricks in the ACT. The world of the Canberra Liberals is getting nasty as ex-ACT Liberal leader Zed Seselja challenges sitting Senator Gary Humphries for Senate preselection. With the showdown set for February 23, the Canberra Liberals management committee is to meet tonight to discuss whether one camp has diddled the other.
The Humphries camp is furious that Seselja denied he was contesting the preselection until the last minute — he announced it Monday morning, when nominations closed. That means quite a few Liberals won’t be eligible to vote in the preselection plebiscite, because to be eligible you have to have attended a branch meeting in the last six months. Because Humphries supporters didn’t realise the preselection was to be contested, some haven’t gone to a meeting (and now it’s too late). One insider described the situation as “bruising” to Crikey. Most agree Seselja has the numbers to topple Humphries.
There’s also plenty of gossip around who will take over from Seselja as the leader of the Liberals in the ACT Legislative Assembly. There’s talk of a cosy little deal by which Seselja (who’s staying in the Assembly) throws his support behind Jeremy Hanson as leader and Alastair Coe as deputy. In return, Hanson and Coe guide their supporters towards voting for Seselja in the preselection. But where does that leave wannabe leader Brendan Smyth? If you know what’s going on, email Tips.
Tony Abbott has publicly supported Humpries (a moderate) for preselection, but insiders say the boss won’t make much of an effort to help the sitting senator. It all makes for interesting times in the normally sleepy Legislative Assembly on London Circuit.
Apt nicknames. If you’ve been following ICAC, it might come as no surprise that former NSW politician Eddie Obeid has earned the nickname “He who must be obeyed”. We thank the tipster who sent it in for our Crikey list of politicians’ nicknames. Did you know that Malcolm Turnbull was known to some former banking colleagues as “Turdball”, while we have at least two federal pollies have been dubbed some variant of “Whacka”?
We need more help to flesh out our list — some of the best entries have been wildly defamatory, so at this stage we’ve reluctantly kept them off the list. Perhaps we’ll release a late-night edition. If you know of some more nicknames, drop us a line (and if dobbing in your boss, why not stay anonymous).
No nurses please, we’re Queensland. Tips reported a rumour that Queensland Health had cut its entire grad nursing program at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. Now we’ve heard the Director of Nursing at the Gold Coast Hospital was told not to employ any grad nurses — but he refused.
More bad luck for Captain Cook. Poor old Captain James Cook. First he was killed by the people of Hawaii, now his cottage in Melbourne has been vandalised. A caller to 3AW reported that grafitti artists have daubed “Cook was a murderer and a thief” in large writing outside the hut. Apparently the council is beefing up security patrols around the cottage. Here at Crikey we support people expressing their opinions.