From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

You know who else changed Hansard? With Barnaby Joyce yesterday forced to issue a mea culpa for using the Hansard adjustment process to significantly alter an answer he gave in question time — he honourably blamed his staff, but dismissed the changes as minor edits — our minds turned to other occasions when Hansard was altered to suit the convenience of an MP. The most famous example was Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech in 1996. Amid her nauseating rantings, Hanson declared that:

“Time is running out.  We may have only 10 to 15 years left to turn things around. Because of our resources and our position in the world, we will not have a say because neighbouring countries such as Japan, with 250 million people, Chinese (1.2 billion), India (1 billion), Indonesia (250 million) and Malaysia (300 million) are well aware of our resources and potential.”

Among other errors in the speech, in her hyping of the Asian threat, Hanson had got the population of Japan wrong by a factor of two, and the population of Malaysia wrong by a factor of 15. To cover up her embarrassment, Hanson had Hansard “corrected”, so that the official version read

“Time is running out. We may have only 10 to 15 years left to turn things around. Because of our resources and our position in the world, we will not have a say because neighbouring countries such as Japan, with 125 million people; China, with 1.2 billion people; India, with 846 million people; Indonesia, with 178 million people; and Malaysia, with 20 million people, are well aware of our resources and potential.”

She started as she continued, with hysteria and a profound aversion to facts.

UNSW keeps its fossils. The University of New South Wales told staff yesterday that unlike the Australian National University, it would not be divesting from fossil fuels. UNSW has about $50 million worth of investment in fossil fuel energy out of a $309 million portfolio. Ms Tips found this particular part of the letter from Vice-Chancellor Fred Hilmer quite revealing:

“In reaching our position, we note the words of Drew Faust, President of Harvard, who warned of the risk of using investment funds in ways ‘that would appear to position the University as a political actor rather than an academic institution’. ‘Conceiving of the endowment not as an economic resource, but as a tool to inject the University into the political process or as a lever to exert economic pressure for social purposes, can entail serious risks to the independence of the academic enterprise. The endowment is a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.'”

Were they scared off by the reaction to ANU’s decision? According to our tipster, “I currently have UNSW as a beneficiary of my will. When it is next updated, UNSW will no longer be mentioned”.

Barrie’s book launch a success. The ABC’s Barrie Cassidy launched his latest book in Melbourne last night to a crowd of mostly family and friends, as well as some admirers and famous faces. The book, Private Bill, covers the life of Cassidy’s father, who served in WWII, and was launched by General David Morrison, Chief of the Australian Army, who spoke warmly of the book and of Cassidy. The Insiders host revealed that Melbourne University Press’ Louise Adler had commissioned the book after he wrote this column for The Drum two years ago. In a heartfelt speech, Cassidy thanked his wife, ABC reporter Heather Ewart, who he said has been working on a three-hour documentary about the Nationals. Former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu made an appearance, and Ms Tips spied him chatting to Adler after the formalities were through — was she commissioning her next political tell-all? The nibbles provided at Hawthorn Readings were top notch, with sushi and antipasti on offer, but the wine ran out too soon, with staff rushing to buy more to adequately provide for the large crowd. The books were also in great demand, and we think copies will be seen under many Christmas trees this year.

Wind goes south in Tasmania. Hydro Tasmania announced yesterday that it would not be proceeding with the feasibility study into the King Island wind farm, after deciding that the project was not economically viable, even if the Renewable Energy Target does remain at its current level. Community debate around the project for 200 wind turbines has been heated and Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davy said in a statement that the community had been patient with the project:

“Hydro Tasmania believed very strongly from the start that this was a project worth investigating and that the local community needed to be involved in the process. We wanted King Islanders to be given every opportunity to better understand what was being proposed. It is their island and their home.”

Crikey has been covering the tactics of locals opposing the farm and the study, some of whom most recently put their hats in the ring to run for the local council. What will they do now that there is no wind farm to protest against, thought Ms Tips? No TasWind Farm group president Jim Benn told Crikey: “We did not cause the disruption in the community, Hydro Tasmania did, and I’ve spoken to many people who think they should apologise.” When asked about running for local council, he said: “That has nothing to do with the wind farm.” We have a feeling this is not the last heated debate Australia will see over wind farms.

Gillard in the US. Former prime minister Julia Gillard will give a lecture at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania tomorrow night, and we hear that some attendees are asking Australians for some background before asking questions. Gillard may think she’ll get an easy crowd across the Pacific, but Ms Tips thinks she may face a curly question or two.

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

Peter Fray

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