From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Carbon tax repeal money. Now that there is no more carbon tax, we hear that some local councils have run into a unique problem — what do they do with funds that were collected under the tax when there is now no way to pay those funds to the federal government? Wollongong City Council has $4.4 million in carbon tax money collected from running the local rubbish tip. A tipster alerted us to this line in a press release from the council:

“Council is also currently holding around $4.4 million collected under the repealed scheme. Negotiations are now underway with the Federal Government regarding what should happen to the remaining funds once all payments required under the repealed scheme are finalised. When this is clarified a report will be presented to Council.”

We hear that the $4.4 million is money collected before July 1 this year, and that as the law has changed the council has contacted the federal government to negotiate what happens to the money. There is the possibility that the council could keep it, and councillors would then vote on how to spend it. Wollongong Council can’t be the only body that is faced with carbon tax money and no way to pay it — if you know of any other councils with carbon tax money sitting in their coffers, we’d love to know about it.

Clean up (Landcare) Australia. Landcare Australia held its national conference last week, and we hear that there is unrest within the national environmental organisation and its linked bodies. In the wake of the conference a petition has appeared online claiming to be from an organisation called “Australian Landcare”, calling for the resignation of the chairman of the board of directors, Campbell Anderson. It refers to his previous work as president of the Minerals Council of Australia and support for coal seam gas exploration. Although it only has a small number of signatures, Landcare Australia said in a statement that it was taking the petition seriously:

“A recently circulated email and petition, purporting to have been written by Landcare Australia CEO, Tessa Jakszewicz, have been falsified. An email address, using Ms Jakszewicz’s identity and name has been created by an impersonator. Accounts established on a petition website and other social media sites falsely use Landcare Australia’s name and logos and have not originated from any Landcare Australia employee. Tessa Jakszewicz and Landcare Australia take these matters very seriously. They have been reported to the Police and are currently under investigation. The Landcare Australia team has every confidence in our Board of Directors, and we will not let these actions distract us from our goal of supporting and working with the Landcare movement.”

We hear from another tipster that confusion over names is a running theme at Landcare. Landcare Australia Limited (the company that will be responsible for the government’s Green Army) and the National Landcare Network (representing volunteers across the country) are two bodies with similar names and similar purposes, but are commercially different, according to our tipster. Former governor-general Michael Jeffery was announced as the patron for Landcare Australia in June, but we hear that he was disappointed because he thought he was becoming patron of the volunteer National Landcare Network.

Sexting out the vote. We know that politicians are big fans of using social media to engage with voters, but they sometimes struggle with getting it right. Victorian MP Clem Newton-Brown ran into a spot of difficulty over the weekend when posting a link to an opinion piece he had written for the Herald Sun about stopping teenagers from sexting. The article was accompanied on the website by a photo of a scantily clad woman holding a mobile, which some found inappropriate. Newton-Brown has been an enthusiastic user of social media in the lead-up to the Victorian election, with sponsored posts featuring in the Twitter and Facebook timelines of Victorians, many of whom were well and truly outside his electorate. Lucky for Newton-Brown in this case, former Labor staffer Carla Drakeford offered advice on how to remove the photo from the post — we love to see social media bi-partisanship.

To declare or not to declare. A tipster has drawn our attention to this article in Business News Western Australia on Friday about the dismissal of a staff member due to financial irregularities at the Student Guild of the University of Western Australia. The piece is written by Business News intern Matt McKenzie, who was president of the Student Guild in 2012 — the year before the alleged financial issue. McKenzie’s connection isn’t mentioned anywhere on the website, and when Crikey asked Business News head of content Mark Pownall about the piece, he said he didn’t have an issue with the lack of declaration, and that McKenzie had alerted him to it. Pownall says he thinks there has been enough distance for the piece to be run without a declaration, and “he didn’t get the information from any political clout”.

Column inches for comment. We hear from a tipster that the Art Gallery of NSW has been promised space in The Sydney Morning Herald to cover its latest project, the Sydney Modern, after director Michael Brand sent an email to staff on Friday saying that he had received an apology from the paper after an article covering the decision to replace front-of-house volunteers with paid staff originally appeared without quotes from the gallery. The move has been roundly criticised, with the SMH’s art critic John McDonald writing over the weekend:

“What madness has descended on the Art Gallery of NSW? After sacking three popular, perfectly competent staff members, director Michael Brand has now progressed to ‘sacking’ the entire Volunteer Task Force of 210 willing workers. In these tough times, with limited resources, this means the Gallery will be hiring a team of paid ticket sellers, adding an estimated $250,000 a year to the bottom line although this is a mere snip alongside the $2.1 million being paid to the executive staff.”

*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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