From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Andrew Bolt and sources. Andrew Bolt used his blog yesterday to attack Muslims and journalists who support individual freedoms in the face of government attacks, including Wendy Bacon and Crikey‘s own Bernard Keane for suggesting the government had embraced national security as a means of distraction from its domestic political difficulties, saying we were peddling “a conspiracy so barking mad that you’d have to think the US, Britain, France, Italy and Saudi Arabia were all donating their armed forces to this war, too”.

Sadly for Bolt, even a quick Google would have told him Australia’s dear allies the Saudis — also noted for their beheading prowess — have as yet committed no armed forces against IS. Not a plane, not a soldier. And if Bolt wants a source he can trust on that, he could ask one of his proprietors, News Corp’s second biggest shareholder, Saudi Prince Al- Waleed Bin Talal Al Saud (yes folks, never forget News Corp and 21st Century Fox are both US-Saudi controlled companies). Al-Waleed told CNN on the weekend that despite having 135,000 troops, boots on the ground was the not “the way forward for his country”. He said: “I think Saudi Arabia will not be involved directly in fighting Isis in Iraq or Syria, because this does not really affect our country explicitly.” Facts, of course, aren’t things that really affect Bolt explicitly, either.

Murdoch and corruption … no, not that Murdoch. University circles are buzzing after Murdoch University’s vice-chancellor Richard Higgott was suspended on full pay and referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission. While Ms Tips can’t report more information about the suspension, there are whispers of unease among the student population. While most undergraduate students don’t know the difference between one vice-chancellor and another, we hear that post graduate students are concerned at what impact the scandal will have on the reputation of the university in a new deregulated higher education sector. The University of Western Australia announced its new fee structure this morning — will Murdoch be in a position to match its competition?

MPs on Twitter… but not quite. Victorians are used to seeing politicians post happy snaps on social media every time they visit a school or barbecue, but Victorians could be forgiven for being confused about the appearance of a new MP on Twitter over the weekend — and one claiming to be the Premier, no less. The account belongs to Kate Ballard, a fictional character from Channel Ten’s new political drama Party Tricks, which will air later this year. There’s an account for Ballard and for fellow character David McLeod, both of which are helping to create buzz for the show. Ballard’s account has already tweeted about the UN’s HeforShe campaign, and McLeod has revealed his AFL allegiances. Interestingly, the two accounts don’t follow each other — a preview of what’s to come in the show, perhaps?

Restaurant Australia without a venue? Tourism Australia’s latest campaign to sell Australia to the foodies of the world has come under criticism from some in the industry for focusing on the luxury end of the market and ignoring other smaller operators that also want tourist dollars. The Restaurant Australia campaign has been an expensive adventure, and some are wondering if it’s been money well spent. We hear from a tipster that the campaign hasn’t been smooth sailing, with Tourism Australia running into issues with the MONA gallery in Tasmania regarding a fancy dinner, planned to be the final stage of the campaign at the gallery. According to our tipster there were difficulties with getting insurance for the venue to hold the 80 media and food and wine experts. Tourism Australia told us the event was still going ahead, but we’ll be watching this space.

Bob Brown’s invisible book. Ms Tips finds it very amusing that the News Corp papers have seemed to realise just this week that there has been an avalanche of books by politicians this year, with the Daily Tele crowing today that its unfavourable coverage of Bob Carr’s diaries contributed to a jump in sales figures — turns out those Qantas pyjamas were good for something. One thing we did notice was that the list in yesterday’s Oz wasn’t quite complete.

One book that was conspicuously missing was former Greens leader Bob Brown’s memoir, Optimism, released in August. It has sold 7455 books since release, and 4788 in its first four weeks. That would put it well ahead of every book on the Oz‘s list except Carr’s — but we’re sure it’s just an innocent oversight. Of course former prime minister Julia Gillard’s memoir will be released tomorrow, but Ms Tips is finding the endless stream of memoir, autobiography and diary quite tedious — perhaps the pollies should take a leaf out of former South Australian premier Don Dunstan’s book and share their culinary know-how. Kevin Rudd could write about just how cold revenge should be when served …

VTA boss on the move. The Victorian Transport Association — perhaps the most powerful lobby in the Australian trucking and freight sector — seems to have parted ways with its CEO. Neil Chambers is a “free agent”, according to his LinkedIn profile, after more than a decade with the organisation, the last two years as boss. The VTA wasn’t ready to say anything this morning, though an announcement is expected this afternoon. Chambers — whose phone was disconnected when we tried — is now calling himself a “consultant”: “Looking for the next adventure!” The VTA is a member of the Australian Trucking Association but has long pushed beyond its borders to lobby on national issues.

That’s how you quit your job. This American news reporter quit live on air after announcing that she was the owner of the Alaskan Cannabis Club she was reporting on. Might as well go out with a bang …

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

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off