From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Langton wants the NIT. The National Indigenous Times is up for sale, and while its current owners are keen to buy it back off its administrators if they can, Crikey understands there’s interest from other quarters as well. Polarising Aboriginal scholar and land rights activist Marcia Langton is one of those expressing an interest in buying the publication. Langton has been previously published in the fortnightly paper, which releases its first edition of the year this week despite its administration.

Jones and Greer standing up for drug smugglers. They are unlikely allies, but Alan Jones and Germaine Greer have appeared together in a video by the Mercy Campaign in support of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Australians facing the death penalty in Indonesia for drug trafficking. The video is part of a concerted campaign to save the two men, who were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin into Australia. It has been reported today that their executions will not be ordered for at least another week, while an “evaluation” of the executions of six other drug offenders takes place. A concert is also being organised to show support for the men and will take place in Sydney on Thursday night, although a venue is yet to be confirmed. The concert is organised by celebrated artist Ben Quilty, who has befriended the pair and will feature artists such as Megan Washington and Josh Pyke. The campaign is asking supporters to sign their petition in a bid to have the sentences reduced. While the PM has already publicly called for the Indonesian government to reconsider the penalties, it wouldn’t hurt for Australians to let their local MPs know how they feel about the sentences.

A party with no people? With just days until Queenslanders head to the polls, we are also starting to hear some tips from our NSW election watchers, one of whom has pointed out that the No Land Tax Party is using stock photos on its websites next to testimonies that it says are from real people:

The use of the stock images is documented (hilariously) here, but we decided to ask the No Land Tax Party why they were using images that weren’t actually of their members. President of the party James Ruben told us:

“The short answer to your question is that our campaign, despite having thousands of members, and significant grass roots support, literally didn’t have the funding to pay for professional photography of the people who made those testimonials. If we were granted millions of dollars of tax payer money months before an election, in the same way that the major political parties in NSW are, we would have more funds for the development of our website.”

We also asked if it was misleading to use such pictures, and Ruben said: “The testimonials are genuine and not misleading”. We asked if they would continue to use the photos or get new ones, but there was no reply to the question. Ruben stressed to Crikey that the limits on fundraising for new minor parties were onerous, making it difficult to put a campaign together for all the seats, which the party is planning on doing. Ruben also told us that the party had a strong membership base. We have to say, even unprofessional shots of real people would be a better look than images of models that can be found anywhere on the net.

Going, going … Our silent auction of a bottle of red wine signed by the five minor party MPs in the Victorian upper house has less than 24 hours to go, and the current top bid is $350, with all proceeds going to Camp Quality. If you want to get your hands on the bottle (the entertaining back story is here), send us an email with the subject line “red wine auction bid $  — ”. Bids will be taken up until 11am tomorrow, and the winning bid will be announced in tomorrow’s Tips and Rumours.

Singing for security. We received this tip from a source in the know at the Sydney Opera House on Friday:

“One would think that the Opera House being an Australian icon and possible target would have watertight security and alarm procedures. But there has not been an evacuation drill for years until today, Friday. And no alarms worked!”

We have contacted the Opera House to ask if an evacuation drill took place on Friday and if alarms were working, and were told:

“The Opera House conducted a routine evacuation drill on Friday 23 January 2015. We confirm that the evacuation tones were activated. To reduce the risk of panic and any associated injuries, an auditorium announcement was made prior to the emergency systems being activated at the end of the performance. The Opera House conducts major full house and venue specific emergency and security exercises on a regular basis. The Opera House also conducts a weekly testing of our evacuation alarm system. The safety and security of our staff and everyone visiting our site is paramount. The Sydney Opera House works closely with NSW Police and relevant authorities on security matters and implements appropriate measures based on their advice.”

Haters gonna hate, hate, hate. While debate and think pieces continue to dissect the phenomenon of #Tay4Hottest100, (for those who have managed to ignore it — BuzzFeed campaigned for Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off to win the Hottest 100, and it was disqualified by the station), we are glad to know that the Young Liberal Movement have taken a position on the issue. This motion was passed at their annual conference on Saturday afternoon, condemning any move to disqualify Taylor Swift from the poll as “the ABC undertaking North Korean democracy”. We’re sure the motion was written in haste, but is this handwriting (and spelling) the result of a life spent on computers? These young folks could learn a thing or two if they picked up a pen more often.

Who’s out of touch now? More gold out of the Twitter account of one Rupert Murdoch over the weekend, when the media mogul complained of how “Hollywood leftists” were trashing “American Hero”, showing how “completely out of touch they are with America”. “Brave Clint Eastwood!”, he typed, before thousands responded that he’d gotten the name of the film wrong. “Yes, American Sniper!!”, he tweeted two minutes later. We will say this about Murdoch — he never deletes his mistakes.

Queensland — the strong state. There has been a lot of coverage about how often Queensland Premier Campbell Newman repeats the word “strong” when airing his pitch to voters, but one tipster snapped this picture in the electorate of Southport, where the Labor candidate is also plugging himself as a “strong voice”. Creativity is obviously not the name of the game here. With just four days left until the Queensland election, let us know if you see anything interesting on the campaign trail.

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

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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