From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Baird and his News Corp mates After last week’s controversy over New South Wales Premier Mike Baird’s appearance in an advertisement for The Daily Telegraph, one tipster drew our attention to this article in The Australian from May this year — it told readers that Tele strategic news director Clare Masters was off to join Baird’s office “as media adviser and speechwriter”. As the Oz’s journalist rightly pointed out, she is now reporting to former Australian state political journalist Imre Salusinszky.
Ms Tips is grateful for the reminder — it had slipped her mind that Salusinszky had been spinning for Baird since 2013. The revolving door between politics and journalism is nothing new, but having News Corp insiders on Baird’s staff must have come in handy when the Teleapproached the Premier to star in its TV commercial recently. Other former journos on Baird’s staff include ABC graduate Mark Tobin and former Channel Nine political reporter Nigel Blunden.

Gone fishing. After yesterday’s tip on the musical covering the prime ministership of Julia Gillard, Crikey’s own Daily Review has followed up just what goldfish have to do with it. Decibel’s artistic director Cat Hope said:

“One piece is quite conceptual: two goldfishes will be on the stage and the performers will interpret their movements as musical instructions. Another piece is focused on Julia’s legacy speech, and the music was composed by attributing pitches to different letters of the alphabet.

“In music, I think that there isn’t enough discussion about conceptual approach to pieces, so I was really interested in this idea of having something that’s completely non-musical as a starting point.”

Glad we’ve cleared that up then.

What’s in a name? Ever wondered if your name affects your political leanings? Neither had Ms Tips until she came across this quiz. From Crowdpac, a data website in the US that aims to match voters with candidates with similar priorities, the quiz works “based on the average of all campaign contributions made by people with this name since 1980”. So of course, we plugged a few famous first names into the system to see what came up. “Tony” is a conservative name — with a rating of 2.7C out of the highest possible level of 10C for a conservative. “Bill”, however, is even more conservative, at 5.2C. We only hope that someone could create an Australian version …

A rose by any other… It’s generally good idea to check you’ve got the right person before tagging someone on Twitter. Unfortunately for New Matilda‘s Wendy Bacon, when she began tweeting her support for Freya Newman, the student at the centre of the Frances Abbott scholarship saga, she didn’t check who she was tagging.

The Freya Newman on Twitter, who actually hails from Bath in the UK, has also posted photos of the supportive messages she has received on Facebook — we hope someone will fill her in on what it’s all about.

Brisbane City Council’s $26 carbon tax. We’ve been tracking the savings promised by various energy providers and businesses since the repeal of the carbon tax, as well as the awkward reality for some councils that have found themselves with extra revenue from carbon tax money they received but hadn’t paid to the government before the repeal was passed. We received this rates notice from a tipster living in the Brisbane City Council area:

He asked us why the refund was a one-off — surely the carbon tax won’t be back by the time the next rates notice arrives? We asked Brisbane City Council why they were offering a one-off refund and were told that it was to do with the costs associated with rubbish collection. We’re glad the Brisbane City Council has decided what to do with its funds — as we reported earlier, other councils are yet to decide what to do with the money, which is in the millions in some cases.

Grattan Institute has energy.  The Grattan Institute released its report Gas at the crossroads: Australia’s hard choice this week, and one tipster’s attention was pricked by what he called the report’s “pro-marketplace stance”. As well as the report, the Grattan published this article on Monday. Our tipster was concerned that the institute’s research could be influenced by its funding — one of the institute’s affiliates is the Origin Foundation, Origin Energy’s philanthropic branch.

The Grattan Institute’s affiliate program documents state the institute provides discounts to events and access to Grattan speakers to the Origin Foundation in return for a $20,000 annual donation as part of the program.

John Daley, the CEO of the Grattan Institute, clarified to Crikey that the institute received funding from the Origin Foundation but not Origin Energy itself, and the institute is “very clear” with its affiliates that financial support “will not influence the content of what we write”. Daley says the concerns are unfounded and that Grattan has safeguards in place to ensure their affiliates do not have an impact on its work. If you ever see a possible conflict of interest, we’d always like to know.

Spring Street in Canberra? We’ve been covering the minor parties in the lead-up to the Victorian election and have been told that one candidate isn’t actually that keen on winning: Dean O’Callaghan of the Save the Planet Party is more interested in his teas than in his seat and told Crikey he’s too busy running his business to be an MP. “I wouldn’t want to fly to Canberra all the time,” he said. O’Callaghan’s lack of love for the nation’s capital didn’t stop him running running as an independent for the seat of Wills in last year’s federal election, where he would have been more likely to be required in Canberra had he managed a seat.

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

Peter Fray

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