From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Coalition’s fundraising faux pas. The Coalition (federal and NSW branches) have been in a spot of bother lately about fundraising practices. Sounds like not everyone was happy with the Abbott government’s gala budget-night dinner in Canberra two weeks ago, a busy event with lots of back-slapping from business types and lobbyists …

“A biz type at the centrepiece budget dinner in Parliament House recently reports much muttering into the mango mousse as cabinet ministers were whisked off to all manner of fundraising events across the building, leaving glaringly empty seats at tables for which corporates had been persuaded to part with up to $10k a table, ostensibly for quality time with their relevant government member. Many corporate hosts were aghast at the snub and some ministers were heard bemoaning how many gigs they had to make appearances at, leaving one to wonder how much the party raised that night, and how many donors will bother to stump up again next year. One wag said he could just sit in the Qantas business lounge on a Monday morning if he really wanted to spend a few hours making small talk with his business competition.”

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Ouch! It’s one thing to sell access to oneself, but another to be so rude. Of course, some people would pay good money not to sit with politicians …

Could the real Kevin Andrews please stand up? Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews is under the gun at the moment as he defends the government’s budget welfare cuts. Yesterday The Daily Telegraph published an op-ed from the minister spruiking these changes, with one glaring error in the print version:

Yes, the man pictured in the headshot atop the article is not Kevin Andrews. So, who is this mystery man? Let us know if you recognise him.

Malcolm, where are you? Speaking of missing ministers, this has been doing the rounds on Twitter. We haven’t heard much from Malcolm Turnbull since the budget was released — is it a case of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?”

Literary judges shafted. Yesterday we told you how all last year’s judges for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards had been removed, to be replaced with, er, a more Coalition-friendly team. We’ve heard from another former judge, who said:

“Some former judges have undergone financial loss. We were asked at the end of last year if we would like to judge again in 2014 and though this was not confirmed, the assumption in email correspondence on both sides was that it would happen again at the same time. Those of us engaged in freelance work turned down offers of work or didn’t chase further projects, anticipating the considerable time we would have to devote to reading.

But months went by, the diary filled up anyway and nothing happened … until last-minute phone calls before Friday night’s dinner. Literary types are not usually well-paid, and this kind of non-communication can put a hole in finances.”

Clive takes one for the team. Maverick MP Clive Palmer is doing his bit to rein in the budget deficit — he’s not using the taxpayer-funded Commonwealth car that politicians are entitled to. Instead, he turned up to Parliament in …

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Peter Fray
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