From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Zed’s dead, baby. Just when you thought Labor couldn’t turn a trick and the Coalition had a permanent golden glow, in step the Canberra Liberals to stuff things up. A brutal stoush over who will be preselected for the ACT’s Senate spot will come to a head tomorrow night, as supporters of sitting Senator Gary Humphries seek to overturn the highly controversial preselection, which was won by rival (and young gun) Zed Seselja.

About 350 members are expected for the showdown at Canberra’s Rex Hotel at 7pm. Team Gary are confident they will have the numbers to overturn the previous preselection, and if this happens, they think they would go on to win the second preselection, which would probably be held in early May. But nothing is certain — both sides have called in the lawyers, plenty of members are furious at this process (including some party donors), and there’s talk of procedural dirty tricks tomorrow night — will one side seek to draw out the process until enough members have gone home?

Team Zed have sway over the party’s management committee, while Team Gary seem to have more support among the members. FYI, Tony Abbott has publicly said words of support for Humphries, but has otherwise kept out of this battle (very wise).

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Members are gossiping about Seselja’s future. He was the ACT Liberal leader in the Legislative Assembly last year, polling well (although not winning government). He stood down as leader to contest the Senate preselection. Will he settle for a future on the ACT Liberals’ almost non-existent backbench if he loses the preselection barney? If you’re privvy to the twists and turns of this battle, drop Crikey a line.

Climate movements. Julia Gillard’s decision yesterday to merge the climate change department with industry and appoint Gary Gray “climate change is pop science” to be the Minister for Resources and Energy, has raised eyebrows. Ex-Woodside employee Gray will now be in charge of renewable energy and energy efficiency. This from a departmental mole:

“Only the ‘pure’ climate change bureaucrats will be merged with industry — the energy efficiency part of the portfolio will move to Gray’s RET portfolio. Fun times …”

And another had this to say:

“Expect a mass exodus of what were DCCEE [the old Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency] bureaucrats to other departments or the private sector. And it might be interesting to see how well the new Minister and new secretary of RET get along given their previous positions?!”

Our source is pointing to what may be an awkward relationship between Gray and the secretary of his department Blair Comley, a firm advocate of action on climate change, who was secretary of DCCEE before being shunted to RET a few weeks ago. You can read about Comley in last week’s Power Index profile. And if you know more about Gray’s history, by all means fill us in.

Meanwhile, Tips wonders if Gillard has missed an opportunity in not promoting Labor MP (and parli sec) Melissa Parke, an articulate former human rights lawyer. Who do you think we should include in our Crikey fantasy cabinet? Tell us the Labor MP you think is undiscovered talent.

Coetzee speech. Famously private Adelaide-based author J.M. Coetzee gave a rare book reading at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre last night — prompting Tips to ask if anyone has seen the great author smile in public? The event was booked out and Booker-prize winning Coetzee read elegantly from his new book The Childhood of Jesus before patiently signing books for a long queue — but he didn’t seem to flick a smile. Has anyone got the secret? And for those ignoramuses like this Tips correspondent, his name is pronounced Coet-zeea, not Coet-zee. That will impress your colleagues around the water cooler.

Power lunch. Simon “false start” Crean was spotted having lunch with trucking magnate Lindsay Fox in Melbourne’s South Yarra yesterday, a caller to 3AW reported. Wonder what they were chatting about?

Worth a punt. Thanks to all our readers who got in touch to reveal whether they managed to squeeze their winnings from Sportsbet after backing Gillard to “win the next Labor leadership ballot” last week. Sportsbet said it would not pay out for Gillard because there was no ballot, leaving some punters less than impressed. This one did well:

“I put on $20 at $2.80 the day of the spill, and $9 at $6 odds the day after. Both were paid out. Best bet ever made, especially $6 odds the day after the spill was over.”

But this Gillard backer didn’t get very far:

“Unfortunately they didn’t pay me even after I gave them an ‘educated’ spray … deceptive and misleading conduct etc. Best they could do was void the bet with no apology.”

Another happy punter told us Centrebet “paid up within a couple of hours of the outcome becoming public!”

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