From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Spectator’s got old news. The Spectator‘s Australian incarnation is not unfamiliar with publishing articles that don’t quite get the timing right, but this one seems to take it up another level. A tipster brought our attention to this piece, “Touting for Child Abuse”, by Christopher Akehurst in the latest edition. The piece is about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse and the author’s belief that there haven’t been many victims and their abuse has been overstated:

“No doubt they would like it to go on forever, but there is some indication that the commission is running out of victims. I infer this from a telephone call a friend received one Sunday from a ‘market researcher’ asking, quite out of the blue, whether the friend knew, should he happen to be a victim of sexual abuse, how he would go about bringing a complaint before the commission — in order to ‘share (his) story’ as the commission’s website puts it.

“That sounds to me like touting for custom, as though not enough ‘survivors’ (as they have come to be called, as if they’d got out of a plane crash) have already come forward. If there’d been an avalanche of claims you’d think the commission would have its work cut out dealing with them without looking for more.”

The piece was originally published on Akehurst’s personal blog in March 2013, and has conveniently disappeared just hours after Crikey started making inquiries about it. It has recently been reported that the commission needs extra funds and time to do its job properly, but publishing the blog post now makes it sound as though it is running out of victims. Our tipster told Crikey in a fury:

“The column is disgusting in itself, and as it’s written it’s a flat-out lie. I quite like the British Spectator, but the stuff dumped into the front in Australia is partisan in a dim-witted way, badly written, shrill, and features covers so ugly I find carrying the magazine around is actually embarrassing.”

We asked the editor of The Spectator in Australia, Rowan Dean, several days ago if he knew the origins of the article before he went to print, but did not hear back.

Timely correspondence. We got this from a tipster in WA, who was annoyed that it had taken her electricity company four years to inform customers that the company’s carbon offset program wasn’t accredited by the government.

We asked Synergy why the correspondence had taken so long, but didn’t hear back before deadline.

Evans, Keating and activity after retirement. Yesterday’s launchapalooza of Gareth Evans’s ’80s diaries, launched by Paul Keating at the ANU’s Crawford Centre, was felicitously held at the same time as a conference on ageing and “activity after retirement” in the room next door. Crikey and AFR‘s Rear Window wandered into the latter and hung round the snacks table for a minute or two before realising that we were in the wrong collocation of ageing men in good suits, and made our way to the main event. Our opinion was that the gerontology conference had a better spread — low GI and rich in fibre — while the Evans launch offered high-sugar cookies, which seemed to be the last thing either author or launcher really needed.

We can suggest an activity … Also at the launch, Keating (again) dismissed the idea of writing his memoir. “It’s one thing reforming the country for these people … but needing to entertain them 25 years later, I will not do” is the way he put it while launching his former minister Gareth Evans’s book. But the big, definitive Keating biography is still the great political book that gets Australian publishers salivating. Keating has consistently refused to co-operate with big-name writers who want to take on the project, but our information is that this publishing opus is far from a dead duck.

Seniors at SBS out the door. Ms Tips has heard that senior staff within the SBS broadcast and IT departments are being laid off in anticipation of big budget cuts at the multicultural broadcaster. We hear that key management staff have also paid several visits to the ABC to investigate combining the broadcast facilities of the two public broadcasters. In a speech earlier this month ABC managing director Mark Scott told students at the Queensland University of Technology, “We are working with SBS to see if, by working more closely together, we can make backroom savings, while remaining independent editorially”. Know more?

Saving how much?  It’s the “correspondence edition” of Tips today, and we received this from a reader in South Australia — Energy Australia says that its average customer will save $136 over 12 months after the repeal of the carbon tax. That leaves $414 still to go from the $550 that Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised we’d save when the tax was repealed.Is Energy Australia scrimping on passing on the full savings, or did Abbott overestimate the amount of cash we might save?

We’d love to see any correspondence you get from companies promising to pass on carbon tax savings. Just drop us a line.

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

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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