From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Who likes a carbon price now? Ms Tips was bemused this week to see that the list of 1000 companies that signed a letter to the UN Climate Summit supporting a price on carbon to combat climate change included mining companies BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. Aren’t these the same companies that protested against the carbon tax here in Australia? We charted how their views changed over the last four years and found some interesting results. In the month after the 2010 election, then-BHP chief Marius Kloppers called for action on climate change, saying:

“Our preferred solution is the introduction of an international climate framework, which includes binding commitments by all developed and major developing economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

But in 2011 when the carbon tax was introduced, Kloppers wasn’t so positive:

“Effectively … what is being proposed is an export tax, an uncompensated export tax, on coal and LNG.”

It’s a big change to this week’s statement from BHP Biliton:

“A price on carbon is an effective measure to drive greenhouse gas reductions and technological innovation. The best solution would be an international price the incentivises a market-based response.”

Rio Tinto’s then-Australian managing director David Peever was also highly critical of our carbon pricing scheme after its announcement:

“We are deeply concerned the proposed carbon tax fails to shield Australia’s export sector and leaves it at a disadvantage compared to international competitors.”

Rio Tinto’s submission to the Joint Select Committee on the Clean Energy Bill (carbon tax) in 2011, was also negative:

“Whilst it is important to respond to the climate challenge, Rio Tinto remains concerned about key features of the CEF package. Without significant changes, the scheme will inevitably hinder investment and jobs growth in Australia without meaningfully reducing global carbon emissions. It will undermine Australia’s international competitiveness and hurt the nation’s export-competing industries.”

It’s also interesting to note that neither BHP nor Rio made submissions to the current government’s consultations on its Direct Action plan — maybe they know it’s a dud? We’ve reported before on the way in which companies campaigned against the carbon tax, even if it was an advantage to their business. Now we see companies that tell the UN they’re all for a carbon tax were highly critical of the former government’s carbon tax. Was their opposition about politics and not policy all along?

A date to remember. In a genius moment of commissioning, Vice Australia sent two young Liberals from Melbourne University on dates with members of Young Labor. They were matches made in comedy heaven, from the cheesy venues (a bowling alley and La Porchetta restaurant) to the passive-aggressive discussion of political and ideological theories.

We doubt they’ll be ending up on second dates (apparently phone numbers were not exchanged), but perhaps not for the reason you’d expect. One of the young Liberals who went on a date was Matthew Lesh, who often speaks eloquently in favour of his party’s positions in the media. What he didn’t tell Vice, though, is that he is gay. When asked about this by Crikey, Lesh said: “I took part in this project to help demonstrate that differences in politics shouldn’t stop young people with an interest in public policy from being friendly and engaging in debate. I think it’s important to note that for the purposes of this project the idea of a ‘date’ was merely a construct to allow two young people from different sides of politics to meet and discuss ideas.”

Now we have a request to make of Vice — next time can you match members of the Greens and Young Labor? Would the passive aggression turn into sexual tension? We can only hope.

Courier-Mail confuses. In our monitoring of subscription deals with the various papers we received this letter from a subscriber to Queensland’s Courier-Mail. We thought today’s front cover was confusing enough, but it seems that their subscription deals are just as muddled. This letter informs customers that prices will go up next month, but that if you upgrade your package before the compulsory price rise you’ll get a range of extra features at no extra cost — seems like a good deal. But when you read the fine print, it’s actually asking you to sign up for the October 24 price rise in September to get all the extra features, which will actually cost the subscriber more money earlier. Our tipster is managing his parents’ subscription, and we wonder are they being sold a pup?

Questions to answer. How do you lead effectively in complex and changing environments? We bet The Age’s Andrew Holden knows all about that, as he’s giving a session on it at Leadership Victoria on October 23. The whole thing’s Chatham House Rules, but maybe that’s the only way those attending will get honest answers to the many questions about Fairfax everyone has these days. Questions like why The Age put a random Afghan-Australian teen on its front page yesterday claiming he was a terror suspect? Holden is relatively unknown for someone who holds such a high-profile position in the Australian media — before he started up his stint as editor-in-chief at The Age in 2012, he spent a dozen years in New Zealand, including time as editor of Christchurch’s The Press. When the earthquake struck in 2011, he published the paper out of a shipping container. No doubt he’ll regale listeners with the tale.

Bartos returns. Two decades after he left the public service, long-running Crikey commentator Stephen Bartos has been lured back into government. From Monday, he’s taken up a high-stakes role as budget officer in New South Wales. He’ll be leading a small team of finance experts in Parliament who’ll provide costing of election promises made during the upcoming NSW election. His term runs until June next year.

Earlier in his career, Bartos was responsible for national budgeting and financial management at the Department of Finance, rising to deputy after a decade as a senior executive in the department. Since quitting he’s been a fellow at the Australian National University, a professor at the University of Canberra and a director at Allen Consulting Group based in Canberra.

Fox news facepalm. Just when you thought Fox News couldn’t be any more well, Fox News, an anchor refers to a female pilot from the United Arab Emirates as “boobs on the ground”. Gross.

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

Peter Fray

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