From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

A soy latte and preferences please. Last week we brought you the tip of a Liberal MP loudly backgrounding a journalist in an airport, and now we have a Victorian Greens MP taking his preference negotiations in a cafe:

“This Saturday I spotted Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber meeting with a representative of the newly registered Victorian branch of the Animal Justice Party at a cafe in inner-city Melbourne (the cafe was 100% vegan and organic). The meeting was clearly a negotiation between the AJP and the Greens Leader, the representative from the AJP was giving Greg Barber no assurances of ‘support’. The conversation darted around from a few topics of conversation, highlighting the AJP’s apprehension to back the Greens.

“AJP preferences could be crucial in a range of Lower and Upper House fights across the state. The AJP controversially distributed their preferences to the Liberals before the Greens in the 2013 ACT Senate race, ultimately costing the Greens the seat.”

We put a call in to Greg Barber’s office and to the Animal Justice Party and were told by the AJP’s Bruce Poon that he did meet with Barber on Saturday but that no decisions had been made on preferences yet. The AJP preferenced the Greens last in last year’s ACT elections due to the Greens’ decision to support the kangaroo cull before the election. Barber’s office didn’t get back to us before deadline.

Abbott at the ACRAs. It was the night of nights for the commercial radio industry this weekend, with the best of the airwaves kicking up their heels at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards, held at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Saturday. We hear from a few tipsters that attendees were treated to a special video message from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, which was quite unusual and “wonderfully awkward”, according to one tipster. Unfortunately our tipsters enjoyed their night a little too well to report on the substance of the message, but we do know the PM told those present that he “believes in radio”. More unusually, we hear that 3AW’s Neil Mitchell was also seen to crack a smile.

Girlie men calling names. Had he been catching up on Mad As Hell? Binge-watching some ‘80s action movies? “The problem that the Labor Party has today is that Bill Shorten is an economic girlie man.” So opined Finance Minister Mathias “the Cormannator” Cormann on Saturday morning, prompting an outpouring of criticism about his sexism. Those who sought to defend him on social media as simply making an Arnie reference, like Crikey’s own Bernard Keane, were accused of displaying “white male privilege” (something Keane, of course, has been known to slam). Labor’s Ed Husic hit back, sort of, by imploring Cormann to be the Deodoriser, not the Terminator, because the budget stank — thereby securing the award for the year’s clunkiest political riposte. In an age when the media with one voice laments politicians who stick to their talking points, surely we can forgive Cormann the occasional Arnie slip? Then again, he did proceed to exacerbate things on Sunday — rather than putting a freeze on the subject (geddit?), he defended his comment, insisting it wasn’t offensive to women. Bit of a stretch, Mathias — but you could probably undo a lot of the damage by channelling not just Schwarzenegger’s quips at Republican conventions, but his views on the need for climate action …

Journos working for the dole.  Work for the Dole writers for a Melbourne community newspaper don’t appear to need to do much work, according to an inside tipster. Our tipster said he and other writers for Melbourne’s The Northsider spent most of their time doodling and surfing the web due to a lack of instruction from editorial staff. After speaking to a journalist friend, he decided to come forward:

“We go to the newspaper and aren’t given any training. We’re just told to write, with no style guide and no instruction on how to avoid defaming people.”

Avoiding defamation is one thing, but Working for the Dole is supposed to be teaching skills applicable to the workforce. Doodling might be good experience for a cartoonist job, but perhaps not journalism.

We’ve contacted The Northsider to hear their side of this story but didn’t hear back before deadline. Heard any good work for the dole stories? Let us know.

Tweeting without subbing. Ms Tips was alerted to this tweet by Age editor Andrew Holden this morning — seems innocuous at first, but Holden misspelt the name of the article’s subject — Eddie McGuire. Our tipster wondered if the tweets at Fairfax are also getting subbed in New Zealand …

Foreign Fighters quiz. Press releases clog up the inboxes of journalists to the point where they are rarely more than skimmed, until we received this one from Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm — it’s a quiz on the government’s Foreign Fighters Bill. Ms Tips was having so much fun, it didn’t even seem like work. Now if you’ll excuse us , we’re off to call Leyonhjelm …

Dressing up at the ABC. We hear they are very fashion-conscious at our ABC:

“They’re star struck over at the ABC in Melbourne with the visit by Jean Paul Gaultier attracting lots of attention. First it was the news team, then Breakfast’s Virginia Trioli. But when 7:30 star Leigh Sales gets in on the act you have to wonder what’s going on, especially given Sales’ interview is going to run several days after Trioli’s.”

Sounds like someone missed out on a Gaultier interview and is a bit jealous …

*The Northsider Marianne McDade has responded: 

“Participants are required to work according to the conditions set by their job service provider. When they begin the activity with us, they are provided with some resources including ideas about how they can contribute. These options of course include writing, but also photography, design, social media, research, distribution, illustration, web development, and more. The participants are encouraged to choose a role that reflects their interests, current skills or skills they are interested in learning/gaining experience with … Our Work for the Dole program is one of very few that actually do allow participants to to learn skills that are applicable to the workforce …

“As far as the experience ‘doodling’ offers, we have also had some incredible artists/cartoonists/illustrators participate and contribute to the paper – some who have even gone on to secure publishing deals through contacts that were facilitated by The Northsider. It may not be journalism as you mentioned, but it’s a pretty damn good result all the same.”

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