From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Joe Hockey’s cigars. Fascinating tip from a high-flier:

“Newly installed federal Treasurer Joe Hockey was recently overheard grumbling about the 50-gram limit on importing duty-free cigars at Sydney airport. Seems someone may have forgotten to tell the treasurer if he doesn’t like a revenue-raising measure he can always cut the taxes … for that matter, didn’t know he smoked!”

This sounded a little outlandish to Tips, so with some trepidation we put it to Hockey’s office (which is pretty busy with scrapping Labor’s tax and super reforms, selling off GrainCorp, running the economy, etc). We were delighted when the office took it seriously with this response:

“The Treasurer knows full well the import limit of tobacco products into Australia. As every traveller should do, he self-disclosed the small number he was carrying and paid the appropriate duty without complaint. Any suggestion otherwise would be false.”

So there you have it — Hockey does smoke cigars. Has anyone seen him puffing away around Parliament? These could be the most famous parliamentary cigars since Bill Clinton …

A wake for Wake Up? The poor hosts and staff of Ten’s new morning show Wake Up, which debuted on Monday, are being treated to lunch at fancy restaurant Rockpool today by management. Why “poor”? Because the show has flopped. Its ratings were at 52,000 across the five key cities on Monday, but that dwindled to 29,000 yesterday. That’s compared with 346,000 for Sunrise and 328,000 for Today (although why anyone would watch these shows is a mystery to Tips). As our TV spy said of today’s slap-up lunch, “so much to celebrate”.

Gillard bio being made. Interesting to hear that prominent actress Rachel Griffiths will play Julia Gillard in an upcoming “bio-drama” (there’s no broadcaster on board yet). Gillard may be disappointed — she told The Guardian she’d like Tilda Swinton to get the role. The feature-length show will be based on journo Kerry-Anne Walsh’s recent book The Stalking of Julia Gillard, which focuses on the media’s active role in the destabilisation of Gillard. We’re dying to know who will play Kevin Rudd … here are a few suggestions (we derived inspiration from this famous pic of Rudd):

Some leading journos are likely to wind up featuring on-screen, and it will be interesting to see which actors portray them. There are some excellent suggestions on Twitter at #theJuliaStory. We love Shaun Micallef as Malcolm Turnbull, Zac Efron as Bill Shorten and Naomi Watts as Julie Bishop. Thanks, tweeters!

Fantasy question time. Crikey is asking our readers to play Bill Shorten and devise the best question for him to ask Tony Abbott in the Coalition government’s first question time, coming on Tuesday. We’ve had a strong response; this one is hard to beat:

In light of his policy to “Stop the Boats” does the Prime Minister plan to alter the words to the Australian national anthem and I quote “For those who come across the sea, we’ve boundless plains to share” to something that is more in keeping with his current policy? — David Hardie

The only problem with that one is it would come from the party that tried pretty hard to stop the boats, too. Here are some more zingers:

Would the prime minister please tell the Australian voters where he and the Treasurer have hidden the budget emergency they spoke so much of in recent months? We would like to know too — Don Card

Was that was the shortest honeymoon since Britney Spears got married in the Elvis Presley chapel in Vegas? — Martin

If you think you can do better, email us your suggested question, and please provide your name or a moniker. We’ll bring you the best in plenty of time for Shorten to write them down.

Counting the votes. Yesterday we brought you a story revealing some serious concerns about the accuracy of vote-counting on election night at the recent federal poll. Some insiders think the staffers are not adequately trained and work overly long shifts, and too many mistakes are made as a result. Some readers asked why the ballots are even counted on election night, given that the AEC counts them all afresh over the following week. Is the charade worth it, to bring voters an early answer on who won? Another asked us this:

“‘Vote early and vote often’ is the old refrain but I have never seen any numbers of how often this happens. The AEC must have them, pretty simple to isolate those voter IDs that have been ticked off in more than one booth I would have thought. Can Crikey get the numbers please?”

We can’t refuse such a politely worded request. If you can shed some light on this, email Crikey. When Ms Tips voted, the lackey just put a biro line through her name on the roll — so what’s to stop her voting at every booth in the electorate?

Going out with a bang. Our attention has been drawn to US company Holy Smoke, which places the ashes of the dearly departed in shotgun shells and rife rounds.

“The bullets can then be kept for ornamental use, fired at the funeral ceremony, or used for recreational pursuits such as hunting or clay pigeon shooting. According to the founders, the idea for the business came from a dinner party discussion.”

Goodness, that must have been quite a dinner party.

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

Peter Fray

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