From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Roozendaal a protected species? We received this from a tipster on the goings-on in the NSW branch of the Labor Party:

“Re your recent article on ALP reform, the unions seem to be the least of the ALP’s worries at the moment. I’ve heard that the ALP party office are refusing to do anything to expel [Eric] Roozendaal. Individual party members have been told they’ll have to bring charges against him themselves — so campaigning against a sitting ALP member and … having it all come out in ICAC isn’t enough, apparently.”

Eric Roozendaal, former NSW treasurer, admitted at ICAC that he had seen a Treasury document that was leaked to the Newcastle Herald to undermine former Labor member for Newcastle Jodi McKay, but denied leaking it. McKay has already called publicly for Roozendaal’s expulsion from the Labor Party, and he was suspended from the party in 2012. Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid have already been expelled after the corruption revelations at ICAC, and we hear from insiders that Roozendaal would be next in line, but powerful members of the party’s Right faction are trying to shield him from the embarrassment of expulsion. We asked the NSW branch of the ALP whether the administration committee was considering his expulsion but didn’t hear back before deadline.

Discipline in employment office? From the federal Parliament rumour mill:

“After a turbulent few months, the Chief of Staff to the Assistant Minister for Employment The Hon. Luke Hartsukyer MP, responsible for the Work for the Dole Program, may have been disciplined by the Prime Minister’s Office … Following the ‘resignation’ of three advisors and staff members from the Ministerial office, Hartsukyer’s media advisor of 13 years is now going to an electoral office role which will no longer involve Canberra after what is said to have been an outcome of negotiations with the PMO after he was subjected to a tirade of abuse by the said Chief of Staff.”

We put that to Hartsuyker’s office and were told by media officer Greg Pierce:

“From my perspective the assertions in your email are incorrect. I have recently returned from personal leave and will be based in Coffs Harbour for the moment. I am not aware of any disciplinary matters relating to the PMO and my Chief of Staff.”

If you know of any more federal gossip, you can let us know here and stay anonymous if you wish.

Newspaper business wars heat up. Renewed competition from The Australian‘s business relaunch could spur a response from The Australian Financial Review, which is understood to be dusting off plans to introduce a metered paywall early next year, in line with the model at Fairfax’s metro mastheads. Amid continuing declines in print circulation across the newspaper industry, the softer metered model — allowing AFR readers a certain number of free articles per month — is seen as a way to boost readers, traffic and therefore advertising revenues. The AFR is now folded within a so-called business “vertical”, including the business sections of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, reporting as part of Fairfax Media’s metro division, and is understood to remain profitable after relentless cost-cutting. A review of AFR pricing — known as the world’s most expensive financial daily — considered cutting the $3.50 cover price and $900 annual subscription cost of the AFR but decided against, finding circulation was price-inelastic given the well-off readership. The metered paywall for the AFR is not a new idea: it was canvassed by then Financial Review Group chief Brett Clegg back in 2012, as an alternative to the hard paywall put in place years ago by his predecessor Michael Gill.

Newman moving on Moggill? The rumours surrounding the dumping of Queensland LNP MP Bruce Flegg continue, and we hear from a tipster this morning that Premier Campbell Newman has recently purchased a property in Flegg’s safe seat of Moggill. Flegg was told by the LNP this month that he would not be preselected for the seat, which he has held for 13 years, and he has accused “faceless men” of the party of ousting him in an attempt to shore up a succession plan should Newman lose the seat of Ashgrove, but said that he didn’t think Newman wanted the seat himself. Our tipster says it’s “no coincidence” that Flegg was dumped. We asked Newman’s office if he had recently bought a property in the electorate and were told, “the premise and rumour of a property purchase in Moggill is totally false”.

Dispatches from Moscow. We hear from a tipster in Moscow that Tony Abbott’s threat to “shirt-front” Vladimir Putin has had little impact on locals. What our tipster did find interesting was that the Pravda article on the matter, in which Prime Minister Tony Abbott is described as “a politician who thinks it is cool to be rude, insolent, insulting, impolite, impertinent, unpolished, gross, unpleasant and downright impudent,” couldn’t be found on the Russian-language version of the site. The opinion piece already seemed squarely aimed at Australian readers — but has it bypassed the Russians completely? Unfortunately Ms Tips is no Russian speaker and couldn’t verify this, but if you can let us know here.

Get down with the Greens. It has already been reported that the Greens are targeting voters in the marginal Victorian seat of Prahran through gay hook-up app Grindr, but lucky for us one of our tipsters snapped this to show us what they actually look like. Ms Tips wonders if this is more likely to annoy voters who are looking to be courted by men other than the Greens candidate. Perhaps you can swipe right for a good time … but now we’re mixing our dating apps as well as our metaphors …

Newspaper watch. We received this tip from a Perth-based tipster yesterday afternoon:

“If you’re still doing the ‘giveaway newspaper watch’ — we had six 20-newspaper bales of The West Australian left outside a lecture theatre here at UWA yesterday morning.  Eight hours later (thus eight classes of up to 350 students) and maybe 10 of the papers had been taken.  I guess the kids get their news from other sources these days!”

Ebola Merch. We thought that NSW Premier Mike Baird and former Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy had this week’s bad taste awards sewn up, but then we spied this — Ebola-themed merchandise. Excuse us while we rush to buy everyone on our Kris Kringle list a plush Ebola strain …

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

Peter Fray

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