From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

GetUp’s got the power. Eyebrows were raised when GetUp announced its campaign against energy companies that support scrapping the Renewable Energy Target, as it signalled a move towards commercial partnerships. Last month the activist organisation asked Victorians to change their energy provider to Powershop, a company that provides energy from renewable sources, and it seems to have had an effect on what GetUp calls the “dirty three” — AGL, Origin and Energy Australia.

A tipster tells us “I did it myself and the Origin drone who contacted me to discuss my sudden departure (who was very nice) said that they had been fielding a lot of calls on the issue”. It got us wondering how many people had made the switch in Victoria and how much money GetUp was making from the campaign– the  organisation’s website lets people know that GetUp receives a contribution from Powershop for each person who changes. Campaign manager Paul Oosting told us that so far “over 2000” people had switched their electricity to Powershop, and many had reported that their previous power providers had called them to try to lure them back with offers of large discounts.

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We asked Oosting how much money GetUp was making, and he told us it was a “small contribution” that went back to this campaign. When pressed on how much a “small contribution” was, he said between $50-$150 for each account that changes. By our maths, if 2000 people change at $50, GetUp has made at least $100,000 so far, and it could be as much as $300,000. So nothing to sneeze at. We asked how GetUp members had reacted to the new funding arrangement, and Oosting said it had been very positive and the organisation was looking to roll the project out across the country as it found new partners.

Detention centre tender result close. We brought you the news in April that the contracts to run immigration detention centres across the country were up and that the multimillion-dollar job was up for tender. Now we hear from a tipster that the Immigration Department is close to announcing the successful tender application to run the services, and current provider Serco may not get a guernsey. According to our source, an announcement in favour of Spotless will be announced as early as this week:

“Word is that it was narrowed down to Serco and Spotless with a preference going to a health/welfare based approach instead of the traditional correctional services models being rolled out by Serco and Transfield. Spotless has a large presence in hospitals and has provided a key difference in their tender presentation.”

Spotless provides catering and cleaning services to many venues, including large stadiums, and won the contract to manage the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, which will open in 2016. Spotless told us the company couldn’t comment, and the department’s spokesperson gave us this response when we asked when the announcement was due:

“The request for tender (RFT) closed on 28 May 2014. Tender responses are in the process of being evaluated.”

What’s in a name? If you’re wondering why the likes of Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey are tipping buckets of ice water over themselves in the name of a disease you’ve never heard of, you’re not alone. The ice bucket challenge, which involves people filming themselves tipping a bucket of icy cold water on themselves (something much easier to commit to in the United States, where it’s currently summer), has raised US$15.6 million for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in the US. In Australia (and many other parts of the world), the condition is known as motor neurone disease. So as AFL bosses and various other Australians get in on the stunt, will they give funds for MND Australia, the local association for the disease? National executive director Carol Birks told Techly that MND Australia was struggling to get the word out:

“I did actually just ring up one radio station here that was talking about it to highlight that we don’t call it ALS in this country, that it’s MND, but there wasn’t a lot of interest.”

New moves for AAP. A small-time blogger received this email from Medianet, AAP’s public relations arm yesterday, offering her articles generated by Medianet’s press releases to populate her blog. Our tipster thought it was a strange offer to receive for a small blog, and we wonder how many bloggers would want 50 press releases a day clogging up their inboxes. Pretty soon we’ll have to start monitoring blogs as well as the mainstream press for public relations dressed up as content.

You can lead a horse to water … After Julian Assange’s press conference yesterday about his possible travel plans, we quite enjoyed this from a British journo outside the Ecuadorian embassy. It feels like something that would have worked for Maxwell Smart against KAOS, but don’t think it will lure Assange out of his hiding place.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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