From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Whitlam remembered. Parliament’s condolence motion yesterday gave the opportunity for a total of 18 speakers to pay their respects to Gough Whitlam, and it brought out some gems that make it worth spending an afternoon reading Hansard. Ms Tips had a chuckle at this from Christopher Pyne, who related a story from when he was working for Amanda Vanstone at the age of 18 or 19 and calling Whitlam:

“I spoke to him and said, ‘Senator Vanstone’ — whom he liked, of course; it is hard not to like Amanda Vanstone, indeed — ‘for whom I work is putting together a book of the great parliamentary speeches and would obviously like to include one of yours, Mr Whitlam’. I said, ‘which one would you like me to include?’ He said, ‘any one will do’.”

The band named after the former PM, the Whitlams, got a fair bit of publicity yesterday, with their song Gough shared by many on social media — their website even crashed under the weight of all the extra traffic. Lead singer Tim Freedman fittingly paid tribute to his band’s namesake on Double J yesterday — Whitlam legislated the original Double J back in 1975.

Of course, now that we are into the second day of mourning Whitlam, it is time to point fingers over who is or isn’t remembering Whitlam in the “right way”. Labor’s Anthony Albanese called the Greens’ use of Whitlam’s photo with their logo “cheap, opportunistic and offensive” this morning, and others have spied Whitlam memorabilia on eBay and Gumtree.

A few tipsters pointed out the unfortunate juxtaposition of the advertisements that graced the home pages of a few of Australia’s major news sites yesterday as they proclaimed the news of Whitlam’s death. Surrounding the tributes to the prime minister who legislated Medibank (now known as Medicare) were banners proclaiming the sale of Medibank Private and the shares available. This screenshot is from The Sydney Morning Herald, but Ms Tips also spied it on The Australian website as well:

A group of protesters locked themselves in the administration building of Melbourne’s La Trobe University yesterday, saying it was “for Gough” that they were protesting against the government’s higher education policies.

The great spirit of Labor egalitarianism. Yesterday’s wreath-laying by the Labor caucus in honour of Gough Whitlam produced some good images — the tribe gathered as one, walking down from Parliament House to Old Parliament House to mourn its fallen hero on the spot where, politically, he was killed in 1975. But there was some careful image management involved: staffers were allowed to join the procession and wreath-laying, but told to stand at the back so they wouldn’t appear in photographs …

Nothing’s right — I’m torn. Google does not a news story make. The West Australian ran an article yesterday saying that singer Natalie Imbruglia was over in WA visiting her pregnant sister Laura Imbruglia:

The problem is, as the comments on Laura’s Instagram post show, that Laura Imbruglia is neither pregnant or a West Australian. Natalie was meant another sister, Michelle Parsons. The article has been almost corrected — it now says that the sister is Michelle, although it uses her maiden name Imbruglia.

After Gillard, there’s goldfish. There’s something about the prime ministership of Julia Gillard that seems to have inspired many musical types, and now comes this: After Julia is “a concert featuring the world premiere of 7 newly commissioned works by outstanding Australian composers reflecting on her time as the first female Prime Minister of Australia”, broadcast live on ABC Classic FM and introduced by the former PM herself, the press release promises “a broad collection of works including a 6-girl choir, instructions from goldfish, spoken phrases turned into musical gestures, mouth organs and more”.

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

Peter Fray

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