From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Guess who’s (not) coming to dinner. How are relations between Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Peter Varghese and the Prime Minister’s Office? We know that PMO chief of staff Peta Credlin is seen throughout the government as being a Rudd-level control freak. A DFAT source says Varghese was deeply unhappy at being excluded by Credlin from a state dinner, hosted by Chinese president Xi Jinping, during the Prime Minister’s trip to China in April, and returned home early.

If true, that would provide some interesting context for an exchange that caught our eye last week at Senate estimates, when Labor’s John Faulkner asked some details about Abbott’s China trip at a hearing that had previously been dominated by Liberal Senator Sean Edwards asking incessant questions about Bob Carr’s diary and travel and eating habits. Varghese told Faulkner he had been on part of Abbott’s trip but had come home before it reached Beijing. And, Varghese told Faulkner, the PMO picks who attends state dinners. Varghese thought one of his deputy secretaries might have been there, and maybe some embassy staff, but wasn’t sure. So, did Varghese come home in a snit after Credlin barred him from the dinner? We asked DFAT, but no answer was forthcoming by deadline.

#Opmerdeka. Internet hacker group Anonymous has taken aim at Indonesia over ongoing issues of independence and media freedom in West Papua. Using the name Operation Merdeka, meaning “freedom” in Indonesian, activists have used #opmerdeka to draw attention to West Papuan independence campaigns. One of the major Twitter accounts associated with the campaign has been closed, but another Twitter account associated with Anonymous claims to have shut down 20 government websites and breached three databases last week. There has been minor coverage of the campaign, but no coverage of the hacking. Know more? Drop us a line.

Dame right, she’s in charge. Yesterday’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List included its first Dame for many years. New South Wales Governor Marie Bashir now has the title “Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, Governor of New South Wales”. She joins outgoing governor-general Quentin Bryce and incoming Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, who received the titles of Dame and Sir (respectively) when Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the titles would be reinstated in March. The PM’s press release says the honour “recognises a lifetime of achievement for Dame Marie in the fields of psychiatry, tertiary education, indigenous issues, public administration and as the Governor of New South Wales”, and The Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph  labelled Bashir “already honoured and much loved”. Dame Bashir now outranks her husband, Sir Nicholas Shehadie AC OBE, who was awarded a “Knight Bachelor” in 1976 for his services as lord mayor of Sydney.

ABC replacements get a mixed report card. ABC’s hosting changes have received a raft of comments since last week’s tip, with widespread support for the new faces at RN Breakfast, 7.30 and Insiders. Chucky in Canberra says it’s been a “relief not having Fran on in the mornings,” and that “she’s been good, but it’s time to move on”. Zut Alors supports the changes to 7.30, voting to keep Sarah Ferguson over Leigh Sales. “Sales often finished an interview with at least one important lead-on question remaining unasked. With Ferguson we are guaranteed a no nonsense thorough grilling. Not looking forward to September.” There’s still support for Sales, with Thomas Richman commenting, “Sarah Ferguson’s inquisitorial style of interview would be better served if she pursued issues of substance instead of blowing the extraneous out of proportion to its real news value”.

Lefties looking for love. It might seem like a cold and lonely world out there for those of a Left persuasion, but a new Facebook dating page has popped up to help lefties find a date. OKComrade tells singles “Forget OKCupid. Too bourgeois”, and singles post about political ideals before pina coladas or getting caught in the rain. We noticed this post by Australian writer Van Badham — she says she’s researching a piece on the site. We can’t wait to read it.

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

Peter Fray

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