From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

All in the family for Shorten. Hot on the heels of widespread condemnation of Kevin Andrews for agreeing to speak to the virulently homophobic World Congress on Families, comes news that Bill Shorten is taking time off his busy schedule as part-time Opposition leader to address the Australian Christian Lobby. The once mainstream ACL has been captured by hardline evangelicals in recent years, and became notorious in 2012, when then-leader Jim Wallace said that the “homosexual lifestyle” was “more dangerous than smoking”. The remarks prompted then-PM Julia Gillard to cancel her speaking gig at the group’s conference. But if Labor thought that the ACL had cleaned up its act with the departure of Wallace, they were much mistaken. On Monday, tweeting during QandA’s World AIDS conference special, ACL director Lyle Shelton appeared to suggest that AIDS would not exist if same-sex marriage was not on the books:

Labor’s incurable desire to suck up to the Christian hard-right sure builds party support. For the Greens.

Macfarlane goes off script. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane was waxing lyrical last night at a do for hundreds of Sydney University engineering alumni. Held in MacLaurin Hall, the dinner was sponsored by gas company Santos, and also up speaking was co-founder of the engineering behemoth Worley Parsons, John Grill — estimated wealth $460 million — who last year donated $20 million to his old uni. Somewhat surprisingly, Macfarlane was talking up the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and its $1 billion worth of renewable energy projects — a departure from the hardline message his own parli sec Bob Baldwin delivered at Clean Energy Week in Sydney earlier yesterday, making clear the government would axe both ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation no matter what Clive Palmer said.

But the main point of Macfarlane’s speech was how coal seam gas had done more to revive country towns on Queensland’s Darling Downs, where he grew up, than decades of his own efforts in politics. To be blunt, CSG had brought in “shit loads of money,” Macfarlane said. He was determined to leave a legacy with his forthcoming energy white paper, which gave Crikey’s informant the impression it could be his swansong.

The wrong big issue. The AFL has quite a few big issues at the moment (not least of which is the haircut exiled Essendon coach James Hird has returned from France with), but they’re not quite “the big issue”. This photo was posted on the AFL’s Facebook page this morning, with a logo familiar to anyone who enjoys the fortnightly magazine that assists the homeless:

One user commented that the AFL should make a contribution to the street-press publication for using the logo, seemingly without permission, and it must have made management twig, because this post appeared an hour later:

Although the AFL has many pressing issues, homelessness is a big one and we hope they cough up or apologise.

Old news at the Oz. The Australian‘s media section on Monday splashed their “exclusive” tag on a piece by Sharri Markson touting Gina Rinehart’s imminent takeover of Fairfax, but as one reads on, the headline and lead become more  and more tenuous. The first on the record source, former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett, is quoted talking about conversations with Rinehart that are years old, which Markson makes note of: “Mr Kennett said he had not had a more recent conversation with Mrs Rinehart about Fairfax.” The main source for new takeover claim is an unnamed source, whose major claims — that Rinehart is unhappy with returns and will soon move to takeover — have both been proven as false:

Ms Tips isn’t surprised Fairfax shareholders aren’t taking it seriously.

More jobs for the boys? The Climate Change Council was famously boned by the Abbott government and now perseveres in someone’s mum’s basement, with a Kickstarter site. The Climate Change Authority survived the cull, but will the Abbott government let it continue or starve it of funds? There are currently three vacancies on the nine-member board — what odds Maurice Newman, Ian Plimer and Andrew Bolt are on a list somewhere on Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s desk?

Following the money. Although Treasurer Joe Hockey is running into hurdles to pass many of his budget measures, one of his first acts in the job is starting to get noticed. Early birds who have already lodged their tax returns have begun to receive letters thanking them for their tax dollars and showing them where it goes. One tipster sent through their tax receipt letter, but was horrified at the thought of “propaganda” from the ATO. Ms Tips has been dragging her heels somewhat this tax time, but now there’s a letter from Hockey waiting, better hop to 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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