From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Doing an Abbott. Yesterday after Prime Minister Tony Abbott coined the term “doing an Abbott” for making a mistake, we wondered what actions we would name after other pollies, and as always, our tipsters helpfully provided:

Doing a Hockey would have to be winning everyone’s confidence that you can handle a task with ease and then making a complete dill of yourself when everyone discovers you can’t and your unconvincingly saying “nah nah I’ve got this. No hang on I’ve got it.”

To do a Christine [Milne] — from a range of possible environmental impacts, choosing the most damaging and promoting it as the most likely.”

Doing a Ludlam would of course involve 15 minutes in the shower, a hair dryer and a tonne of hair products. (except for people like me who are blessed with lessening issues with our hair)

Doing a Pyne would involve aggressively accusing people of not understanding you in a very high-pitched poncy voice.

Doing a Wong would be the ability to just look cool, regardless of the situation.

Surely “doing a Malcolm” is the act of pulling apart something that under any normal circumstances you’d be in favour of —  e.g. fast broadband, market-based pollution policy.

Doing a Malcolm — Suppressing the desire to vomit at the company you have to keep.

Surely “doing a Bishop” would mean ‘to stare with the force of a thousand dying suns’?

I would have thought “doing a Shorten” was more like disappearing up ones own cloaca. “Doing a Turnbull” would be to abandon all principle for power — or would be were that not a job description for all politicians.

Nicely done tipsters.

Show us the money! There are times when we wish we had a button that could bring our emails back to us, and it seems the ALP got a taste of that feeling yesterday. A mass email sent by Erinn Swan (daughter of former treasurer Wayne) found a novel way to badger supporters for money, offering an “Abbott Free Zone” fridge magnet in exchange for just $75. Yes that’s right, a fridge magnet all for the low low price of $75.

It’s almost as if they were aware that they were asking for a fair bit of money for a magnet that probably costs $2 to make — it’s a collector’s item, you see, because pretty soon Abbott won’t even be PM. Erinn says:

“The funny thing? We placed the order for these magnets three weeks ago and what we didn’t realise is Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull were in the market for one too. With the Liberals fighting over who is going to lead them, these little pieces of political history are now quickly becoming collector’s items.”

But the high asking price wasn’t deliberate. Within 10 minutes there was a second email with the subject line “sorry about that”:

“You may have noticed that we asked you for $75! Sorry about that, we didn’t mean to ask you for that much. After all, we’re not the Liberal Party.”

We know asking for money can be a bit awkward, but surely there’s a lesson learned here.

Mine approval pressure. After this story on the NSW Planning Assessment Commission’s (PAC) controversial approval of Chinese miner Shenhua’s Watermark open-cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains, Crikey received the following tip-off from someone who went along to the public hearings at Gunnedah in December:

“I attended part of the PAC public hearings last year and heard that the previous PAC for a different mine had knocked back approval for a mine, causing uproar. There was a meeting held in the next few days with mining CEOs and the NSW Premier, who then announced a change to the PAC process so they wouldn’t be knocking back mines again. I don’t know how true this is, and don’t believe it influenced the Watermark mine approval, but I do suspect there is a lot of pressure on the PAC to approve whatever. Certainly, the approval makes no mention of climate change, and yet we need to be keeping 90% of our coal in the ground to avoid really dangerous warming (as opposed to just mildly dangerous warming)!”

PAC refusals of the Drayton South and Coalpac coal projects certainly did cause a stir in October, and a month later NSW Planning Minister Pru Goward announced reforms to speed up and simplify the planning process, including “giving clearer guidance to the Planning Assessment Commission( PAC) on the application of government policies” — a rider that features explicitly in the Watermark determination, as 2GB’s Alan Jones has pointed out repeatedly. A spokesperson for the Premier told Tips this morning:

“The Government has responded to calls from the PAC, community, and industry to provide greater policy guidance on key assessment matters. This has no bearing on the PAC’s capacity to provide independent and expert decision making on development applications.”

Of course not.

Nothing to see here. This photo is from inside a UNHCR detention centre in Jakarta, where a source tells us it has been for the last two months. The message tells asylum seekers waiting for their claims to be processed that there is a “zero tolerance policy” for detainees harming themselves:

 We are not aware if the sign was put up in response to any incidents, but it seems that that the UNHCR is watching events in Australian-run detention centres closely.

Furry public relations. While the head honchos at Uber are in the process of trying to convince us all that they aren’t all that bad, it seems the ride-sharing start up has come up with the best way to get everyone on side, giving customers the chance to order a basket of kittens to their offices for 15 minutes this afternoon. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. Ms Tips has ordered a basket of kittens, we’ll let you know how cute they are and if we stole one for the Crikey bunker.

Immigration says goodbye. A tipster called the Department of Immigration’s information line yesterday, only to be greeted with the following message:

 “Thank you for calling the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Due to the extremely high volume of calls, we are unable to take your call. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

There was no option to hold the line. So not only have the boats been stopped, but the voicemail messages as well.

NZ “office romp” — sponsored? It’s the story that just keeps on giving to New Zealand’s tabloid media — the colleagues who got frisky with each other in full view of a Christchurch pub, and were filmed and photographed by patrons. Nightly current affairs show Seven Sharp (which seems a little like a Kiwi version of The Project) used it for a segment called “Sex Education: Six lessons from the Christchurch Office ‘romp'” on Tuesday, and a tipster pointed out to us that the segment is sponsored by RaboDirect, the bank that is also the main occupant of the building in which the tryst took place (the employees didn’t work for the bank but for insurance firm Marsh Ltd). “Coincidence or not?” asks our tipster. Does the bank have a particularly savvy media team? According to Throng, a Kiwi television news website, RaboDirect has been the show’s main sponsor for the last two years. So it does seem to just be a very odd coincidence.

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

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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