From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Are you getting Fresh with me? It hasn’t been a good week for Young Libs across university campuses in Victoria, as misogynistic rants from members of the Melbourne University Liberal Club were revealed in The Sunday Age and more questionable views from a member at Swinburne were publicised on Monday. MULC seems to have disappeared off Facebook since Sunday, as have the members in question. The two members of MULC outed in The Age don’t seem to be daunted in their hope for a future in an office of some kind, as both are nominating to run in the University of Melbourne Student Union elections. Stefan Eracleous — who, along with calling Germaine Greer a ”lying fucking cum guzzling slut”, thought that “union member” was an insult — is running for the role of welfare officer, while Charlie Cartney is running for the role of general secretary. Students voting in such elections usually struggle to find any information on candidates, but not this year.

As is customary at student union elections across the country, the factions at Melbourne have attempted to find labels for their tickets that don’t have any associations with the parties behind them, but the Liberals at Melbourne don’t seem to have tried very hard. They’re running under the label “Fresh”, a name that has been tainted since it was used by members of the Liberal faction at the University of Queensland Union in 2012 as they changed electoral rules to ensure no one could run against them. We’re told that the Liberals at Melbourne are also running two feeder tickets under the names “Smokers’ Rights” and “Liberal”.

As we move into September, student unions across the country will be electing new representatives to run protests like this. If you’ve got any goss, drop us a line.

Let them eat cake. Speaking of student unions, the National Union of Students and GetUp! are using the occasion of Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s birthday to draw attention to their campaign against his plan to de-regulate university fees. Pyne has taken the “Unhappy Birthday” campaign in good spirits:

Here at Crikey we love a good cake inscription, but we wonder how happy Pyne will be when he sees the cake whipped up for him at Melbourne Uni’s student union:

Safety on a budget at BHP. It’s a constant refrain from the mining industry — safety is our No. 1 priority — so it’s fair to say an internal memo issued recently to workers at BHP Billiton’s Appin underground coal mine in the Illawarra caused a bit of concern. Times are tough in the coal industry, and in April BHP’s Illawarra Coal division cut 36 jobs as part of a cost-cutting drive. Perhaps some of those cuts were too deep — the latest memo, dated July 25, advised that tradespeople at Appin, tasked with inspecting and ensuring equipment was safe to operate, would be redeployed to four-man cutting crews working on weekend longwall development, which has restarted.

“For clarity on the above, the trade’s primary role will still be to ensure that equipment is safe to operate. The trades are required to carry out the normal shiftly inspections … Suiting the production process either the fitter will do his inspections in the first half of the shift and the electrician in the second half or visa versa [sic] and then assist with production.”

Sounds like a tall order to Ms Tips, coming just when workers thought the worst was over and they’d weathered the coal market storm.

Debt level changes explained. It’s rare that a single transaction by an Australian company shows up in the statistics from the Reserve Bank and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but that’s what the revamping of the Lowy family’s Westfield shopping mall empire did at the end of June. The Reserve Bank noted in its July 31 release of the private credit figures for June that:

“Business credit extended during the month was boosted by the provision of bridging loan facilities associated with the re-structure of a domestic corporate entity.”

The figures showed a rise of 1% in business lending in June, compared with May, when business credit rose 0.2%. That 1% rise was the biggest monthly rise since October 2008 and raised eyebrows. And then yesterday’s finance figures from the ABS showed a similar large rise in commercial finance — from$41.487 billion in May to $46.495 billion in June. The restructure of Westfield took longer than expected after a meeting of security holders in Westfield Retail Trust had to be adjourned from early to late June. Part of the change, under which Westfield Retail Trust was revamped and renamed Scentre Group, involved a massive $22 billion bridging loan, of which $5 billion was for Scentre Group. In early July, Scentre raised $2.9 billion in bonds from European investors to help repay some of the $5 billion loan ( it has a maturity of up to three years) and to finance future development projects. Westfield’s parting gift to Australia — a bump up in corporate debt.

Gillard starts to tell her story. While it’s no “not-a-campaign book tour”, former prime minister Julia Gillard is quietly starting publicity for her book My Story. Appearing at the Dymocks 2014 Conference in Canberra last night, she spoke on her book and revealed that she’s a fan of Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. It’s a smart move for Gillard to appear at the conference — bookshops have to be convinced to fill the shelves before the general public can buy a tome. It’s rumoured that Gillard’s advance was between $400,000 and $600,000, so her publishers will be banking on the public being very interested in her side of the Rudd-Gillard years.

Don’t call me, I’ll call you. Dr Peter Hendy, Liberal member for Eden-Monaro, is making overtures to his constituents to join the Liberal Party — he’s even given out his mobile number in case you need extra convincing. But it’s not his number at the bottom of the letter at all. It belongs to a tradie in Queensland, who didn’t answer the phone this morning — we’re guessing because he’s sick of people calling to complain about receiving the letter.

Our tipster asked how the party got hold of her details to send the letter, as our tipster found it interesting that her partner received an invitation while she didn’t. Although the letter has Hendy’s name at the bottom and face at the top, we believe the idea came from the New South Wales Liberals — they’re struggling for members as their state MPs are dropping like corruption-accused flies. We put these questions to Hendy’s office and were told that people who had received the letter had been contacted by the party in the past, and that the letters were funded privately by the party. As for the phone number:

“The phone number was used by the Eden-Monaro Federal Electorate Conference during 2013. Subsequently the number has been re-assigned. The Liberal Party apologises for any inconvenience that may have been caused.”

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