From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Listener feedback for Radio Australia. We don’t know how good we’ve got it until it’s all over. This in from a tipster on how listeners are missing Radio Australia:

 “Former staff at Radio Australia have been emailed by listeners in the Pacific asking why their normal programs have been replaced with opera. And the betting among ABC staffers is that the whole of the international division will be closed down when Abbott’s (not cuts to the ABC) cuts of 10% come in next month. At present, the international division has about 21 staff, with seven managers, after more than 80 were shown the door last month.”

IPA guest’s industry ties. It will be another climate change denier’s love-in next Tuesday night at the RACV City Club in Melbourne when US author Robert Bryce delivers the HV McKay lecture for the Prime Minister’s favourite think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs . Bryce, who is senior fellow at the New York-based Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, will speak on “how increasing energy use promotes a richer and freer world”. According to a brief circulated by the European Climate Foundation, Bryce has come under scrutiny after writing numerous articles in media outlets that fail to disclose his significant financial ties to the fossil fuel industry. Bryce is a senior fellow at the Center for Energy Policy and the Environment at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York. The Manhattan Institute has received significant funding from both ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, with Bryce acting as a paid mouthpiece for the fossil fuel industries. The Manhattan Institute has produced reports that obscure the science supporting man-made climate change, including noting “the science remains muddled.” Bryce has been repeatedly unwilling to answer questions about the funding that the Manhattan Institute receives from the fossil fuel industry. Top funders of the Manhattan Institute over the past decade, sorted by amount here, include the Koch-funded Donors Trust (for more, see: Exclusive: Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science), the Searle Freedom Trust, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the William E. Simon Foundation.

WCF secrecy thwarted. Even after multiple venue changes, and getting stood up by Kevin Andrews and Robert Clark, the World Congress of Families still managed to hold its conference in Melbourne on Saturday. The venue turned out to be  Catch the Fire ministries in Hallam, a suburb in Melbourne’s south-east known for nothing but being on the way to somewhere else. Before the location was revealed on Friday, reporters and delegates were told that they would receive a text message at 8am on Saturday morning telling them the location, and that the protesters for the secrecy. The organisers seemed to think they were running an event needing James Bond levels of security and were apparently prepared for protesters disguised in stereotypically conservative clothing. At the conference delegates were advised not to engage with the protesters out the front, in case they were to say something they would regret later. That didn’t seem to apply to attending the conference in general, though.

Reading the fine print. The industry consultation paper on data retention that was leaked by Fairfax last week has shed some light on what data the government wants internet service providers to keep on what we’re doing online. One tipster has read it very closely and has this to say:

“Point 5 says providers would be required to record info regarding type of connection. The notes for point 5 say that it includes the type of service ‘such as VoIP, instant messaging or email’. Including messaging, email, etc would mean ‘deep packet’ inspection, and logging every TCP connection. This would necessarily involve ISPs (or whoever) examining the *contents* of every TCP connection — not just recording your current IP address (as per Turnbull). This exceeds even what our bumbling AG said. When browsing, you are making sometimes hundreds of connections a minute — ISPs won’t be happy with that workload.”

So basically, metadata isn’t all that meta.

Look who’s back. Anything Goes has announced its cast for a run of shows around the country — and look who’s there. We’re putting our names on the waiting list now to see Alan Jones treading the boards again.

Gas companies and research funding. Multinational coal seam gas corporation Australia Pacific LNG has made a very generous donation in the last month to the University of Queensland’s Centre for Coal Seam Gas ­­­­­– an arm of the rather curiously named Sustainable Minerals Institute. The $3.25 million funding agreement means the group will now have a seat on the centre’s strategic advisory board, alongside Queensland Gas Company, Arrow Energy and Santos. What kind of research do these companies pay for, we wonder? The centre’s website is eager to highlight that all research remains independent, but at the same time politely refuses to publish the members’ agreement. We look forward to reading its research reports.

Still looking for carbon tax savings. The Age is reporting this morning that scammers are targeting people by offering savings related to the repeal of the carbon tax — it’s no wonder people could be fooled, as we still haven’t found an electricity company offering savings like those promised by the government. Following on from last week’s Tips and this infographic suggesting the carbon tax repeal has reduced bills by up to 12.4%, here are some more responses we received over the weekend:

 “I’m on Origin Energy, and I got a letter from them on 27 August claiming that: ‘As a result of the carbon repeal, we estimate that our Victorian electricity and natural gas customers in your billing class will this year on average save 7% on electricity and 7.5% on natural gas based on the average total energy bill.’”

“We are with Simply Energy and have just received a note saying that savings on our electricity and gas prices will be ‘around 8%’.”

And finally, from one unlucky customer:

“Regarding the infographic from the Liberal Party propaganda machine, rather than an 11% fall in electricity prices, I recently received a letter from ActewAGL explaining how my electricity bill was going to increase by more than 4%.”


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

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.