From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Liberal fracas in the ACT … The highly controversial boning of sitting ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries by colleague Zed Seselja is up for review — party members will gather on March 27 to decide whether a second attempt at preselection is needed, after Seselja won the first attempt in contested circumstances that have infuriated some ACT members. (Right-leaning Seselja only announced he was challenging Humphries, who is a moderate, at the last minute. Some reckon while Seselja’s allies were all conveniently eligible to vote in the preselection, many Humphries supporters were not because they had not realised they needed to be.)

We’re hearing that Humphries is in with a very good shot of forcing a second preselection. Insiders reckon 350-400 party members will attend the March 27 meeting, with perhaps 350 eligible to vote at it. Those on the ground reckon Humphries has the numbers, because many members are annoyed at the process by which he was shafted. It’s worth noting Tony Abbott has publicly warned his party does not need ambushes, and backed Humphries. Insiders say his office is keeping an eye on the process.

Former ACT party president Gary Kent told Crikey: “The meeting on the 27th will be critical in the history of the ACT Liberal Party.” Kent said it would be a contest between one side run by factions and staffers (by which it’s safe to say he’s referring to Seselja), and the other “by the broad party membership”.

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If a second preselection is decided upon, the Humphries camp reckon they have the numbers to beat Zed.

This brouhaha has really roused the ACT Liberals. It’s possible party president and Seselja ally Tio Faulkner could face a motion of no confidence at the meeting, while the views of the party’s chief donor, Bob Winnel, would certainly be interesting, as would those of highly respected member Margaret Reid (apparently former chief minister Kate Carnell is not too involved). We hear it took Winnel four meetings to becoming eligible to vote at the meeting on March 27th.

And it’s all very interesting for Seselja, who still sits in the ACT Assembly and stood down as leader to contest the Senate preselection. What will he do if he loses?

If you know more on the preselection and who’s likely to emerge the victor, drop Tips a line.

… and in the NT. So what were three Northern Territory Country Liberal Party MLAs — newly promoted Bess “parliamentary secretary” Price, Dave “I am the only CLP member without a gig” Tollner and Adam “have I got a deal for you” Giles — deep in conversation about during their long dinner at Darwin’s waterside nosh-pit El Piatto yesterday?

And who was that tall silver-haired advisor with his ear glued to the phone for the whole meal sitting with them? And what did Tollner mean when he whispered into Giles’ shell-like ear “what you want to do is …”?

Just maybe they were plotting something before embattled CLP Chief Minister Terry Mills returns from his very unsuccessful trip to Japan. If you’ve got any further information, drop us a line.

Pokie PR ban. Crikey got a little harsh yesterday in this Tip on Sydney casino The Star sacking its entire marketing team, in which we said: ” Tips checked out The Star’s website and was confused, as apparently it’s all about dining, events and ‘health & spa’ — so there’s no pokies, then?” Clubs NSW got in touch to point out that NSW law precludes the casino, as well as clubs and pubs, from putting or advertising poker machines on its website. Our bad.

Di dah di dah. This Tips scribe has become the laughing stock of the Crikey bunker for becoming obsessed about how to send and receive telegrams in the modern age. Yesterday we breathlessly brought you the news you can still send a telegram from Beechworth in Victoria, and a reader has since informed us that you can also do so from the Perth Royal Show each September. A photo of Ken Knox, former telegraphist and founding member of the Morsecodians Fraternity of Western Australia, has apparently done well in the National Photographic Portrait competition. Meanwhile, did we get the Morse code right on the heading to this little snippet di di dah dah di dit.

Telegrams are coming back — you read it here first.

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