From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Bishop the heir apparent? The Oz thinks so. Tony Abbott isn’t going anywhere, but musing on who’s next in line to replace him is nonetheless a popular pastime for Canberra’s insiders. And if The Australian‘s commentariat has any say in the matter, Julie Bishop is increasingly appearing a strong contender. First came a piece by the well-connected Nikki Savva, which compared Bishop favourably to Julia Gillard.

“Bishop is as tough as Gillard ever was. Unlike Gillard, she is not in any rush. The longer she waits, the more experience she has, the better she gets. She has improved markedly across time. Unlike some of her colleagues, she is much better now than when she was a Howard government minister.”

This was followed only two days later by another piece, this time by Peter van Onselen in the Weekend Oz. He said Bishop had put the kibosh on attempts to create a national security super-ministry, which would have presumably gone to rival Scott Morrison.

“It spoke of a deputy Liberal leader asserting her authority in the wake of a strong personal start to government. Bishop will no longer be treated as a mere convenience or figurehead as deputy. She will no longer acquiesce to a centralised structure vesting power in the Prime Minister’s Office ahead of the leadership team or, indeed, the cabinet.”

It’s early days yet, but it can’t hurt to have some of News Corp’s big guns in your corner.

Curiosity killed the cat. Many of us flirt with different political parties over our lifetime, sometimes with good results and other times with less positive outcomes, but if you’ve ever considered joining Senator David Leyonhjelm and the Liberal Democratic Party, you’re in luck. The minor party, which owes its place in Parliament to funding from big tobacco and a name that confuses voters, is holding a fundraiser for its Victorian branch next week, and the invitation is quite open:

“Classical liberals, libertarians and the liberty curious are welcome.”

While we’re not sure if we recommend hopping into bed with the Liberal Democratic Party, anyone who is “liberty curious” should let us know how the party goes.

Auction sells ABC short. In case you’ve missed the ads on TV, radio and online, the ABC is marking Mental Health Week with its Mental As campaign, in a bid to raise awareness of, and funds for, mental health. As part of the week, the Society for Mental Health Research is using an online charity auction to give it a boost, and Aunty is getting in on the action. Tours around the ABC studios and souvenirs are part of the auction, but bids have been slow so far. Ms Tips thinks that $50 for a tour of the ABC News24 set with Tony Eastley is an absolute steal, not to mention the chance to visit Lateline with Emma Alberici. That’s about the cost of a trip to the movies — it would be mental, really, not to put a bid in.

Declarations are difficult. There’s something about local elections that gets people very hot under the collar — it seems that the smaller the number of people being represented, the more petty and funny the battles become. Local council elections are coming up in Tasmania, and one website is attempting to track the donations that candidates receive. It’s not compulsory for candidates to declare their donations on the Apple Isle, so some citizens started a group called Funding and Disclosure Incorporated in an attempt to shed some light on election funding. The site’s Pat Synge said this morning that the response rate had been low, and he had even received this response from one candidate:

“Thanks for contacting me. Although I’m strongly in favour of increased political funding transparency, I won’t be accepting your invitation this time. There are already enough forms to fill in. Thanks for your work in this area.”

Transparency — it would be better without forms.

Team Australia Uniforms. A tipster got in touch last week bemoaning the difficulty of knowing who was on Team Australia and who was not. We, of course, jumped at the chance to be of assistance. We put the call out for some designs for a Team Australia uniform — and a secret handshake, perhaps? — and our tipsters duly provided. We have had a few suggestions so far, all of which are genuine contenders:

“Southern Cross Tattoo of course! With optional ‘Australia, love it or leave it’ car sticker.”

“The essential item is obviously a pale blue tie — unfortunately they now distract me so much that I can’t pay attention to what the wearer is saying.”

“It’s simple — grey suit, white shirt, baby blue tie. Anyone who cannot wear such attire is immediately excluded.”

We’re still open to suggestions, you can send them here.

Worm turns on Abbott. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s not unfamiliar with bad opinion polls, but the boos at last night’s NRL grand final aren’t quite the same as seeing the numbers on a page. Perhaps the 83,000 fans in attendance weren’t united in disapproval of his policy choices — but his support for the Manly Sea Eagles. Booing prime ministers at sports events is not completely unheard of; Bob Hawke also encountered a chilly reception at the 1986 AFL grand final over the fringe benefits tax. Fans had been told the tax would have a negative effect on their clubs, then-opposition MP Michael Hodgman described the tax as a “vicious punch behind play” at the time. Apparently the booing for Hawke was so loud the speeches couldn’t be heard at the ground. Ms Tips thinks the real issue here is — was anyone saying Boo-urns?

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