From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Sun sets in the West. We knew the Coalition government dislikes “utterly offensive” renewable energy, but apparently some states do, too. This from Western Australia:

“I’ve heard that the Public Utilities Office of the WA Department of Finance has announced cuts that will see its Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Programs team redeployed and the programs wound up. In addition, Western Power yesterday got rid of most of its Solar Cities team.”

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Plimer’s conversion. Yesterday we told you about the new anti-environmentalist polemic from Australia’s darling of the climate sceptic movement, Ian Plimer. It comes out in a few weeks. Like his previous work, Heaven and Earth (the climate sceptic’s bible), it’s published by Connor Court, a small Ballarat publishing house that specialises in Christian books. George Pell is a key author in the Connor stable.

Oh, the irony — as some of our readers pointed out. Plimer made a name for himself in the 1990s by taking on Christian creationism. Plimer, a geologist, argued that scientific evidence shows the earth was not created a few thousand years ago, as creationists believe. He took out joint legal action against historian/minister Dr Allen Roberts, who had claimed to have found Noah’s Ark in eastern Turkey (Plimer lost the case, but was given some comfort from the findings). Plimer wrote a book about it in 1994, Telling Lies for God: Reason vs creationism.

Here’s what Plimer said at the time about the need to look properly at scientific evidence:

“I think there is a responsibility to tell the lay audience that we have very good evidence to show that the planet is old. And the leaders of the creationist movement are not using that evidence … I wanted to expose creationism for what it is, and it’s bad religion, bad science and bad business.”

Now, of course, Plimer is writing books claiming anthropogenic climate change is not real for a Christian-aligned publishing house. Telling Lies for God, indeed?

IPA love-in. Andrew Bolt, Janet Albrechtsen, Nick Cater and Tim Wilson on Western civilisation? Ms Tips hastened to dash off her request for a media ticket to this IPA event in Melbourne tomorrow. But sadly we were told we’d have to pay, and civilisation doesn’t come cheap at the IPA. It’s $290 for the day for non-members. If any Tips readers are going along, please do report back on what happens.

Tas Labor identity rises again. David O’Byrne was supposed to be the next leader of the parliamentary Labor Party in Tasmania — until he lost his seat in the 2014 electoral rout (sis Michelle held hers — no doubt earning some points in the sibling rivalry. She’s the party’s deputy leader). Now O’Byrne has a new gig …

… and keep an eye on him. Is there a return to Parliament in his future?

Speaking of family ties, Ms Tips has crunched some numbers and found almost a third of Tasmania’s lower house is related to, or in a relationship with (hopefully not both), another parliamentarian or former parliamentarian. Will Hodgman is son of Michael, Scott Bacon is son of Jim, Matthew Groom is son of Ray. Greens MHAs Nick McKim and Cassy O’Connor are in a relationship. Michelle O’Byrne is the sister of David, Jacquie Petrusma is related by marriage to Hank Petrusma. We almost included Guy Barnett, for being related to himself (he’s now a state MHA and was formerly a senator). There. Have we missed anyone?

Missing: literary awards. You’re not the only person wondering this, Kate …

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards seem to be on ice. Tony Abbott claimed they were going ahead in 2014, and entries closed in March, but it’s May and no judges have been announced yet — let alone a shortlist. Usually the judges would have started reading over the Christmas holidays ahead of winners being announced in July/August. Judges have to read up to 150 books per category, so there’s not much time left to do these awards properly.

They’re worth a cool $600,000 across six categories. Some literary types are really annoyed at the delay, some are worried the awards may be scrapped (a la Campbell Newman), and some have suggested the Abbott government is tweaking the judging panel to be more Coalition-aligned. We understand the holdup is in Arts Minister George Brandis’ office. Is there some bad news coming on budget night for the PMLA? If you know what’s going on, email us.

Meanwhile the Stella Prize, for female authors, has its act together and announced its 2014 winner (Clare Wright) in April. Perhaps Brandis could take some lessons from the women. Catch up, George!

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips toboss@crikey.com.au or use our guaranteed anonymous form

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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