From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

The best seat in Aussie sport. Westpac chief Gail Kelly, Harvey Norman boss Katie Page, Tony Abbott’s chief auditor Tony Shepherd and business adviser Maurice Newman, former News Limited boss John Hartigan, radio loudmouth Alan Jones, Sydney Swans boss Richard Colless, retired cricketers Stuart MacGill and Steve Waugh … It’s one of the most exclusive clubs in Australia: trustees of the famed Sydney Cricket Ground. And there’s two openings.

SCG members receive their ballots this week, in a poll run by the New South Wales Electoral Commission. Some 29 candidates are vying for a seat, with ex-sports stars generally favoured. Wallaby great Phil Waugh and former Test bowler David Gilbert are running this time, to replace retiring trustee (and ex-rugby player) Ken Catchpole. So is journalist and Rotarian Mark Wallace, who told us what he’s up against:

“Two of the 29 are former sports stars, and from the first members election in 1980 until the last in 2010, only ex-sports stars had ever been elected. Trustees include Alan Jones, Rod McGeoch, Steve Waugh, Gail Kelly, Maurice Newman and several others. Nothing wrong with these appointments, apart from the fact that few if any of these people has ever had to worry about getting a seat at the SCG on the first day of an Ashes Test.”

The big issue for members? The so-called “Paddington Gift”, the annual scramble for a seat to the New Year’s Test match that forces members — the horror! — to queue up like plebs. Wallace says he’s campaigning for a more “dignified” process. All the best to him.

Departments freeze out climate change. Yesterday we brought you a claim that the the Coalition government prevented the Bureau of Meteorology from making “climate change” the theme of its annual calendar for 2015. We couldn’t find proof of that, but it sounds like other government departments are trying to ban mentions of “climate change”. A mole from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) told us this:

“ABARES is another government agency that seems to be sceptical about climate change. It is called ‘climate variability’. Having spent a very unpleasant three months working for them interviewing farmers for their farm survey (visiting the farmers was enjoyable, dealing with ABARE staff soul destroying), I wouldn’t trust their figures and predictions as far as I could throw them. For example: you couldn’t complete the survey form if the figures obtained by questioning the farmers didn’t agree to the dollar with the accountant’s profit and loss and balance sheet. This means the figures got fudged somehow in the office.”

Another tipster says mentions of “climate change” are verboten for those seeking funding from DFAT (which now includes AusAID):

“While it is not a directive from government yet (as far as I know), international development actors seeking DFAT funding are advised to re-frame ‘climate change adaptation’ as ‘disaster risk reduction’ or similar, and basically not to bother with climate change mitigation.”

Clive Palmer’s long enemies list. Clive Palmer is getting increasingly worked up as his PUP approaches its balance-of-power role in the Senate (be afraid, be very afraid). His main challenge at the moment is deciding whether to hate on Hedley Thomas and The Australian, or Queensland Premier Campbell Newman (Clive reckons he will sue Newman for defamation). From the look of this tweet Newman is just ahead. Can you see a resemblance …?

A fix for the pesky black hole? One voter has decided to do something about the concerning federal budget deficit. The PM was allegedly — and one can assume unknowingly — put up for sale on eBay. We heard the top bid was at $10,000, but unfortunately it appears the listing has been taken down. There are still a range of Abbott-related products available, such as Abbott toilet paper or a “winter is coming” Games of Thrones T-shirt — a fitting reference to the importance of preparation in the calm before the storm (for viewers of the show, it replaces Ned’s face with Abbott’s).

Fire in the PMO! Ms Tips was concerned for her Canberra mates when she saw this tweet …

However, a closer examination showed this is about the Indian Parliament. Still a concern, but less so for inmates of APH in Canberra.

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

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW