From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Tourism Australia knees-up. It’s all beer and skittles at Tourism Oz, according to this spy:

“The budget emergency obviously isn’t impacting on Tourism Australia. They just held an internal staff party at Ivy Nightclub (Halloween theme) at taxpayers’ expense. I also understand the open bar was extended for two hours and paid for by an exec’s credit card.”

Ivy is a posh bar in Sydney — sorry, make that a “sophisticated urban playground for grown ups”. One assumes these wild parties were not the norm when Scott Morrison was MD of the organisation in 2004-06. A spokesman for Tourism Australia responded to us with this:

“Tourism Australia holds an annual awards event for its Sydney based staff. This year it coincided with Halloween, so we chose to make it themed. It was held in a private room at the Ivy and drinks and canapes were provided until 10pm.”

No word on how much it cost …

One for Lord Haw-Haw. So there’s been a posh knees-up at Australia House in London to entice rich people to move to Australia? That’s the rumour, anyway.

Optus incident. Following up a tip from the public, we can confirm that there was an incident involving a former Optus employee outside the company’s headquarters at Macquarie Park in Sydney yesterday morning. It’s understood the man attempted self-harm. Optus told us a “distressed former employee” was involved in an incident, police and ambulance attended, and “the matter has now been resolved peacefully”. “We are doing everything we can to support all those involved,” a company spokeswoman told us.

Keating talks. Ms Tips is eagerly awaiting the first of a four-part ABC series of Kerry O’Brien (aka Red Kerry) interviewing Paul Keating, which kicks off on Tuesday. It’s going to be a marathon; the first two eps are 60 minutes apiece. We’ve heard it’s hot stuff, and Keating opens up on the “missing years” — his prime ministership and the two elections he faced (’93 and ’96). So it’s not just bagging out Bob Hawke, then — we’ve heard plenty on that before. Rumour is the ABC was keen to sign up Keating because he was little involved in previous series like Labor in Power, and he agreed partly because it’s Red Kerry’s swansong (he’s retiring soon). Expect plenty of fireworks from the Labor haters at News Corp — Andrew Bolt will tune in, that’s for certain. Will you? And would you like Crikey to bring you a Keating drinking game in time for Tuesday’s debut?

ICAC happenings. Our NSW readers will know some journos have been putting in the hard yards following the ICAC hearings into NSW Labor Inc. We can report they finally worked out why the clock in the media room didn’t work properly — no, it’s not a plot by some shadowy figure to keep the media away. Instead, apparently “the big hand gets stuck“.

We also heard there’s a minibar on the way for the hard-working hacks. This comes via excellent SMH reporter Kate McClymont, who is keeping us posted on the hearings via Twitter (click on the tweet to find out more — Peter Lloyd is a senior ABC reporter):

Can I get frequent flier points for my evacuation flight? The normally staid DFAT Twitter account caught our eye with this today. Click on the tweet below to read a very entertaining story from The Courier-Mail about the bizarre requests travellers make to DFAT. It just goes to show that many Australians leave their brains behind when they go OS. Sample question: “I haven’t heard from my friend for 3 years, I’m worried about him and I also want his motorcycle out of my garage.”

Fantasy question time. Next Tuesday at 2pm, fresh Labor leader Bill Shorten will rise to his feet in Federal Parliament and seek to lash Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the first question time of the 44th Parliament. Shorten and his frontbench will be wanting to expose the vulnerabilities and mistakes of Abbott’s government from the get-go. So, if you were Shorten, what would you ask Abbott? Crikey would like your help in devising a list of question time zingers. Should Shorten focus the myriad expenses scandals among the Coalition — or perhaps the winding back of super concessions to low-income earners? Would climate change be a better pressure point? Please — spare us the Dorothy Dixers, though!

Send in your suggested question, with a name or moniker, and we’ll bring you the best in plenty of time for Shorten to read them before he rises to his feet. There’s a Crikey prize in store for the best question.

*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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