From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

School’s out at Parliament House. With the announcement this morning that former prime minister Gough Whitlam had passed away, a strange mood settled over Parliament House, and when it was announced that both question time and Senate estimates had been cancelled for the day, politicians and staffers wondered what the day would hold. Aussies cafe was doing a roaring trade this morning, with many visitors in the building for estimates no longer required to report on the goings on of their departments — one Parliament House regular described it as “like a public holiday”.

The Parliament House gift shop has also assured visitors it has enough Gough Whitlam mugs for those deciding to purchase one in his honour today, and we are told that they were lined up in pride of place in front of all the other PMs’ mugs this morning. An insider also suggested to Ms Tips that a drinking game would be appropriate, with a drink required every time one hears the word “giant”. This seems simultaneously a great and terrible idea; we’ll keep you updated on what transpires.

Vale Gough. While many are today remembering their best memories of Whitlam, we particularly enjoyed this, from Crikey‘s very own aviation journalist Ben Sandilands, from his time at the SMH:

“Nothing escaped Whitlam’s attention when it came to news reports, even by those not by gallery regulars. In the post-dismissal years the Sydney Morning Herald’s page one Column 8 (which I edited at the time) was valuable media real estate. On the afternoon of August 23, 1979, the phone rang:

‘Comrade. Did you know that tomorrow is the 1900th anniversary of the destruction of Pompeii by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius?’

‘Well, um, no, Mr Whitlam.’

‘You do now.’ (CLICK)

The hotly contested lead item on Column 8 said ‘Gough Whitlam says today will be ….’ ending with the kicker, ‘who better to remind us of a disaster?’. At about 10pm, feeling remorseful, I rang the chief subeditor at Jones Street saying I wanted to change the kicker. The country edition was already coming off the presses but the change, made for the city edition, read: ‘He would have known how it felt.’ The following morning, about 9.30, the phone rings.

‘Comrade. I must say, I enjoyed reading the second edition of The Sydney Morning Herald much more than the first …’ (CLICK).

I doubt that any other Australian PM or senior political figure ever read both editions of a daily newspaper.”

But of course, while many have their fond memories, there are always a few who can’t help but push their own agendas. We hear that The Australian‘s Greg Sheridan was less than complimentary on ABC Melbourne with Jon Faine this morning, even going so far as to say “”I think he was the worst PM we ever had”. WikiLeaks tweeted this just an hour after the announcement:

Green paper sans climate change. The government released its agricultural competitiveness green paper yesterday, and while the headline issue was whether or not Australia needs more dams, both the Greens and the opposition were disappointed at the lack of focus given to climate change. Surely it couldn’t be as bad as they say, thought Ms Tips, so we started our own search of the 172-page document. It includes just two references to “climate change”, the first being a reference to the “National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility” at Griffith University in a section on projects that the government has already undertaken. The second mention of climate changes was in the title of one of the articles referenced. So perhaps the paper was green in name only …

Woroni cancels terror event. The student newspaper at the Australian National University, Woroni, was forced to cancel an event yesterday called “the rationality of terror”, after the inclusion of Wassim Doureihi from Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose recent appearance on Lateline made headlines around the country. In a statement on Facebook yesterday, Woroni accused the university Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs of “interference with the panellists” after a a number of academics pulled out from appearing on the panel. Hizb ut-Tahrir has released a statement on the cancellation, calling it “indicative of the West’s inability to to confront what it terms ‘the extremist narrative'”. ANU released a statement on the event yesterday, saying it “supports” the decision of academics not to appear at the event.

Humility at estimates. While Senate estimates yesterday led to conversations about walruses in Antarctica and visits to the Queen, Ms Tips enjoyed this exchange between the chair of the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee Cory Bernadi and and Labor Senator John Faulkner:

“Faulkner: I cannot answer for opposition senators. I wasn’t intending to ask any question of the office of the Governor-General. You must appreciate that I am a mere humble backbencher, so I would not necessarily be aware of what other priorities might be.

Chair: You are indeed humble —

Faulkner: Perhaps not humble, but I am a backbencher.”

TV Guide. Ms Tips is quite the fan of Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, but has never noticed the descriptions of the program in the TV Guide. Lucky for us, one eagle-eyed tipster does read the TV Guide and came across this:

Now we know why there is such a competition to take home the Green Guide in the Crikey bunker …

Potty-mouthed mandarins. Some Twits were a bit shocked to see this tweet including some colourful language in their feeds this morning, after it was retweeted by the South Australian Music Development Office:

 Ms Tips had always thought that swearing was an integral part of developing music anyway …

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

Peter Fray

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