From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Where is Sharri going? Ms Tips has been hearing consistent rumours that Sharri Markson, the controversial editor of The Australian‘s Media section, is moving on to a new role at the masthead. Markson began as editor of the section towards the start of this year and has been the subject of almost as many headlines as she has written, going undercover at university journalism courses and getting kicked out of marquees at the races (Markson disputed this, leading to another round of coverage, naturally). We asked Markson if she had a new role and received this response from Oz editor Chris Mitchell: “Of course not. She is the best editor the section has ever had.” We hope all the previous editors of Media aren’t too offended. We hear Markson has ruffled the feathers of not just her competitors, but also her colleagues. Rumour has it that on arrival at Holt Street she placed a selection of scented candles on her desk, but they didn’t last long — a complaint was made to HR that they triggered the asthma of someone else in the newsroom.

‘Theoretical’ climate change. Climate change doesn’t exist in Queensland, unless it’s between beautiful one day and perfect the next. Just ask the Moreton Bay Regional Council, which is today holding a “planning and development session” where councillors will consider “ministerial direction under the sustainable planning Act 2009 – Regional” regarding the council’s planning policy. The council released its policy for consultation in July and August this year, and the meeting’s agenda says most submissions were about flooding and coastal hazards (page 29). Another major piece of correspondence came from Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, who doesn’t seem to think flooding and coastal hazards are all that much of a big deal. According to a report presented to the council:

“Council was twice requested to meet with the Deputy Premier, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning. At these meetings, the Deputy Premier indicated his concerns with the inclusion of climate change factors in the proposed planning scheme and an assumed sea level rise of .8m to the year 2100 in particular. Council noted the Deputy Premier’s concerns, but indicated the inclusion of climate change factors, including sea level rise, based on the best scientific and technical information available to the Council was necessary in order to protect the Council against legal liability. These issues were outlined in a letter to the Deputy Premier from Council dated 15 October 2014. The Deputy Premier subsequently entered into correspondence which ultimately resulted in him issuing a direction to the Council under section 126 of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Act), dated 28 November 2014. Pursuant to this direction, the Council is required to remove any assumption about ‘a theoretical sea level rise due to climate change’ from all and any provisions of the proposed planning scheme.”

Separation of powers at work.

Keane tweets, Oz rails. There’s something about seeing the word “LOL” in a newspaper that just doesn’t seem right. We hear from the young folk that cool people do not type “LOL” (unless they are doing it ironically), but use emoji to represent laughter. Maybe they were hard up for copy at Cut and Paste, which today decided to defend columnist Henry Ergas’ credentials against a tweet by our own Bernard Keane (the Oz regularly rails against the influence of social media but devotes whole stories to who said what on Twitter). While Keane welcomes the publicity — he has a book out, co-written with Helen Razer, which Cut and Paste mentions, for which he is most grateful — we can’t help but think there was something a little lacking in its material on Ergas. For example, what Justice Alan Goldberg et al of the Australian Competition Tribunal said about him in 2004. Let’s go to the transcript and particularly par 222:

“…we note that on many occasions in the present proceeding two experts in particular, being Mr Ergas, called on behalf of the applicants, and Professor Timothy Hazledine, a Professor of Economics at the University of Auckland, called on behalf of the Gullivers Group, appeared reluctant to respond to questions whose answers might have been adverse to the case put by the party calling them. Instead, they provided non-responsive answers and deviated to discussions of other issues which supported the case of the applicants and the Gullivers Group respectively. On some occasions, the presiding member asked the experts whether they could answer the question put to them and asked them not to give a long explanation, but to no avail. Such an attitude and conduct of an expert witness leads to a conclusion of partiality and an inability to express an objective expert opinion upon which reliance can be placed.”

Then again, that last sentence might sum up the Oz’s entire op-ed stable …

Deck the walls with pictures of Labor. The ALP is offering the best stocking-filler for your favourite comrade this Christmas: a Labor Party calendar! The promotional email reads:

“This calendar features many of our campaign posters ranging from the beginning of the last century through to the great social reforms of the 1980s. It will also include important dates in Australian Labor history to remind us of the struggles of those who came before us and strengthen our resolve for the struggles yet to come.”

Ms Tips wonders if the Kevin 07 campaign manages to get a mention? Will Bill Shorten be Mr September? Perhaps with one of his zingers? It would be very inspiring indeed.

It’s not just the police for sale. After yesterday’s tip that Queensland Police had two vehicles bearing the logo of fracking giant Santos, we hear from a tipster that this is actually not unusual when it comes to corporate sponsorship of the Sunshine State’s emergency services. Rio Tinto announced late last month that rescue helicopters would be upgraded as part of a partnership between the mining giant and the government, with Rio spending $1.2 million on an “Operations Centre and new ‘Cruiser Interactive’ technology”. The $1.2 million announcement is part of  a $10 million, 10-year sponsorship of the Queensland Government Air rescue helicopter service by the mining giant. While it seems that Rio is trying to be a good corporate citizen, why don’t the Queensland emergency services have funds to do this themselves?

Protesters send a message. The death of Eric Garner continues to elicit passionate protests from many in North America, and with this protest route planned and sent to police in Quebec, we wonder if marching the route is even needed.

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

Peter Fray

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