From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Jewish link to NSW Parliament. Bob Carr got everyone talking with his claims of the strong influence of the pro-Israel lobby on Australian pollies. A reader asked us this:

“It is rumoured that the mace used in NSW Parliament for formal occasions was in fact a gift from a Jewish lobby group. How very NSW. Wonder if Bob Carr and Barry O’Farrell were aware of this political donation and whether it has been recorded in the correct gift register (together with generous rumoured trips for NSW politicians to Israel).”

We looked into it and yes, the mace of the NSW Legislative Assembly was presented in October 1974 by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies to commemorate 150 years of Australian Parliament (if you don’t know what a mace is, it’s a funny stick carried around with pomp and ceremony in the chamber). The government at the time was that of Liberal Robert Askin.

Ms Tips’ view is that if the Jewish Board of Deputies wants to supply a mace and save taxpayers the cost, good on them. There’s perhaps more of a question around the study tours to Israel for MPs and journalists. The tours are popular, and participants sometimes come back with an enhanced sympathy for the Israeli perspective.

Uluru photography. Pics of our beaming monarchs-in-waiting Wills and Kate walking around Uluru graced many newspapers’ front pages today. But hang on, aren’t there restrictions on photographing Uluru, for cultural and spiritual reasons? We checked and yes, there are restrictions — there are signs in some areas asking you not to take photos— but as far as we can see, the media abided by them. And while some people need a permit to take pics, that doesn’t apply if “you are a news or current affairs photographer, filmmaker, or sound-recordist, covering news of the day”.

Another sensitive issue at Uluru is whether to climb it (local indigenous representatives ask you not to). Charles and Diana did back in 1983, but Wills and Kate opted not to. However, the overseas media didn’t all get it quite right on the correct name for the rock. The Mail Online had a bet each way:

Later in the day, Kate looked the picture of summer in a patterned white and beige Hobbs dress, as she took a walk down Kuniya Walk at the base of Uluru in Ayers Rock with husband William.”

Minerals Council smarter than greenies. Remember the Minerals Council’s recent pro-coal campaign, which was blasted as a social media farce within hours? Well, the council says it was all a deliberate strategy and the greenies fell into their trap …

“But industry sources say that with 500,000 page views and more than 35,000 emails sent from the site in support of the industry, the online green army ‘missed the marketing memo about not mentioning your opponent’s brand’. ‘It was set up to entice the clicktivists to give it lift off and they did. It couldn’t have played out any better,’ a source told Australian Mining.”

Those emails were supposed to be forwarded to MPs and conservationists. Did they really receive thousands of emails? If you work for an MP, let us know. You can keen an eye on the campaign at @Austs4Coal and #australiansforcoal.

Barry tribute. Passers-by might have been startled to see this artwork gracing the office of dearly departed NSW premier Barry O’Farrell.

Turns out the artist, Rona Sissons, “made the head in a plaster mould from a clay original and cast it in flexible foam with a latex skin” and took it along to protests against TAFE cuts. With Barry leaving office, Sissons created this artistic installation, complete with a bottle of ’59 Grange (see the label below — so that’s where it went). Sissons told us the head has since been removed from Barry’s office, “not sure who by,” but she remains unbowed because she retains the mould. Sissons has also turned Barry into a candle …

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

Peter Fray

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