From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Cracking yarn. So we hear in NSW there’s a “large free range farm that has been producing almost half of its eggs under barn eggs conditions and marketing them as free range. I know because I worked there.” We’re looking into this tip — if you know more, or know of something similar happening at other egg farms, tip us off. Lets hope another media outlet doesn’t poach our story …

What’s Tony Abbott worth? A puzzled punter was surprised to see this invitation doing the rounds.

As our tipster said, “all pretty standard, except the cost part. TBA? What the? You mean you sign up first and the cost depends on the latest Newspoll?”

We wanted to help the Liberals set the price, so we did some digging. A meal at the Gunnamatta Room normally costs $89 per person, which is for “gourmet dining” with “an extensive range of beverages”. Crikey suggests an appropriate price for a meal with these three politicians would therefore be $89.

Tips loves being invited to major events so be sure to pass on your invitations. And with the federal election inching closer, have you received any interesting material from MPs or candidates?

Weathering the advertising storm. Tips has been leading the national media in the shocking fact that paid advertising will soon appear on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website (don’t bother reading The Sydney Morning Herald page three today if you read Tips on Friday). The ads are due to appear any day now. Crikey has been trying to work out if this is the first time a federal government website has carried paid commercial advertising for a third party — various people say this is the case, but we’ve been given the runaround by the feds. Does anyone know if this is definitely the first time the government has sold itself in this way? Perhaps you can recall other cases of commercial advertising on government websites. Lend us your thoughts.

Crikey true crime. Like to help catch a crim? There are some conservationists who could use a hand. One of our Crikey reporters spent the weekend near Benalla in northern Victoria, climbing trees to check nest boxes for threatened species. There are hundreds of nest boxes dotted around the area, providing a place for nocturnal gliders to sleep — they usually bed down in hollows in big old trees, but most of the area’s old forest cover is long gone. Some of the locals were friendly …

A squirrel glider (listed as a threatened species in Victoria) and a sugar glider 

And some were not …

At 1am on Sunday morning, outside the Scout hall in Benalla where the group was sleeping, some men objected to the presence of conservation volunteers, yelled “what the f-ck are you doing here?” (among other things), jumped on the bonnet of our reporter’s car and kicked the windscreen in (they did the same to another car).

Here’s a tip for a violent person hoping to trash a conservation volunteer’s car. Don’t pick a white Camry.

This is his footprint — it’s 27.5cm long. Can you help us get closer to working out who might have done it? (If we work out a bit about him, perhaps it will discourage him from doing it again next time the group is in town.) No one saw the man. Some people who looked at the footprint reckon it’s a skater shoe (anyone recognise the print?), and they think it’s a small-to-average size. The bonnet was not dented — does that mean the person was fairly light? And how much force is required to shatter (but not smash) a car windscreen?

If you can help, add your comment to the thread in our Tips and Rumours section.

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