From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Labor pains. This reader has doubts about the ALP’s new-look flirtation with direct democracy in electing its next leader:

“In the Victorian branch approx half of the membership is stacked, i.e the memberships are purely nominal and completely controlled by a faction or sub-faction. The situation in other states is not much better. The leadership ballot will be conducted by postal vote and the factional bosses will hoover up all the ballots from the stacks and fill them out. Like everything in the modern Labor party, this exercise in democracy will just be an illusion. The party itself is now little more than an illusion. There is not much there any more.”

Meanwhile we’re hearing of some Labor MPs who are “playing footsie” between Albo and Shorten — sounds like there is some maneuvering around opposition frontbench opportunities. Are some MPs ratting on their faction? If you know some inside gossip, be sure to tell Tips (you can stay anonymous).

Overheard in the newsroom. An Australian journalist who made waves recently for a controversial story — let us call her X — was overheard on a previous occasion saying this:

“X: Have they outed her yet?

Fellow journalist: What do you mean?

X: She’s a lesbian. They should have outed her by now.”

Our little birdie concluded: “I don’t recall the person she was referring to, I think it was a female politician, but this is exactly what she said to one of her colleagues.” Nice. We might have to “out” this person’s publication for being junk.

Ministerial stuff-ups? Last week, ruminating on the historical lesson that when a party takes over government, it’s not usually too long before a minister commits a significant boo-boo, Tips launched a competition to guess the first Abbott minister to cock things up. The responses rolled in within 20 minutes of Crikey going out, and we’ve had votes cast for no fewer than 11 ministers and junior ministers. Here are the ministers deemed most likely to stuff up, in order, as determined by Crikey readers:

1. Barnaby Joyce (clear favourite. “For him, error-prone is a normal condition,” a reader said);

2. Julie Bishop (“has some form in clueless gaffes”);

3. Peter Dutton (“it’s a wonder the bloke can even tie his shoelaces”);

4. equal votes for Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Scott Morrison, Kevin Andrews.

Tips will decide who is the first minister to stuff up, and the winner will be the first reader who sent in that name (a Crikey book or DVD is the reward). So sit back and relax, it might not be far away …

Murdoch wins over the kids. Here we were thinking Angela Merkel had won the German election. No; it was Rupert Murdoch and his ideology …

We’re not quite sure how in touch Rupert is with the kids, though. Check out this pic of him chatting to News Corp Australia chief exec Julian Clarke on Rupert’s official Tumblr. Age does bring wisdom (we hope). But if that’s the case, why is Rupert unwisely posing in a martial arts belt on his Tumblr?

TV ratings insider. For many years, Ms Tips has longed to be one of the people whose TV habits are monitored for official ratings (it would help skew things more towards SBS News sheepdog trials, and less towards The X Factor). But only certain people make the grade, as this reader found out:

“Just received a phone call from TV ratings company Nielsen, they asked if we’d be happy to join the Nielsen Television Panel, becoming one of the 6000 households that determine the all-important TV ratings. He said Nielsen would come and install box installed on each TV. Then he asked if I was a journalist, worked in television, was in market research, or worked in marketing. After telling him I worked in marketing and PR for a technology start-up company, he told me that unfortunately I couldn’t partake, as it may be a ‘conflict of interest’. Not sure how considering I’m in a completely unrelated industry!”

Is it really true that just 6000 households determine those TV ratings, out of the 9 million-plus Australian households? Is there not a more accurate, broad-based way to measure these things? We might have to put that to our TV ratings expert, Glenn Dyer …

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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