From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Consensus Centre’s new home? Since the University of Western Australia announced over the weekend that it would no longer be hosting climate sceptic Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre, Education Minister Christopher Pyne has said that the government is seeking a new location to pay $4 million for the pleasure of hosting the centre. This has led to whispers in the corridors at one university, with a tipster telling us: “Rumour at La Trobe University is that vice chancellor John Dewar has been approached about hosting the Lomborg climate change centre. We’re just watching with interest.” We asked La Trobe’s media team about the rumours and whether the university was considering hosting the centre and were told only: “We have not been approached, so there is no basis to this rumour.” We wonder if any universities are still considering offering  the Consensus Centre a home at their campuses.

Birds of a feather. In his regular Monday appointment with Ray Hadley this morning, Social Services Minister/Treasurer-wannabe Scott Morrison attempted to use a rugby analogy to describe the government’s process when it comes to putting together tomorrow’s budget. He said it was “rubbish” that he wanted Hockey’s job (why would you when it certainly doesn’t look like Joe’s enjoying himself at the moment), and then moved on to make a very awkward comparison. “It’s a team effort … it’s not unlike the way a prop forward takes the ball up,” he said to Hadley of his own role, to which Hadley replied “you’re not suggesting Joe is a fleet-footed winger, are you?” And then it got weird. “Oh well, in this role that’s him. He’s our Greg Bird … I’ll be the prop forward taking it up and he can be the one who will score the try and that’s what he’ll be doing on budget day.” Greg Bird was last week suspended for eight weeks for a dangerous throw. Later in the morning Hadley tried to mop up the mess for Morrison, saying he meant to say Jack Bird — of course ScoMo is a dedicated Cronulla Sharks fan. Sure thing, we believe you.

If you can’t say something nice … Sophie Mirabella confirmed over the weekend what we’ve been expecting for a while — that she has put her hand up for Liberal preselection for the seat of Indi, which she held for 12 years until she was unseated by popular independent Cathy McGowan at the 2013 election. A few hours after the announcement was confirmed by The Border Mail last night, McGowan retweeted the following picture with the quote “if you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost”. How inspirational — we wonder if Mirabella is paying attention.

The battle for Indi is again shaping up to be one of the more interesting struggles in 2016, with both the Nationals and the Liberals looking to gain power in Victoria’s north east. Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie was one of the names mentioned as a contender, but she’s confirmed today that she’s secured preselection for the Senate and won’t be running for the lower house.

More preselection murmurs. Last week we had a tip about the frontrunners for ALP preselection in the seat of Capricornia, and we hear from a tipster that another name has been added to the fray:

“Rockhampton’s Morning Bulletin reports local principal Leisa Neaton has also nominated for the seat of Capricornia and is the favoured choice against former candidate Peter Freeleagus and local Mayor Strelow. Neaton would round out the field and provide a ‘community candidate’ alternative. Neaton brings a long career in education including serving as current principal of Frenchville State School, one of the best-performing schools in the state, with more than 1000 students. Local unions have swung in behind her, eager to endorse a strong female candidate following the success of Brittany Lauga’s election as the Member for Keppel. Party officials are likely to move quickly to endorse a candidate as to allow Neaton the best possible chance to against sitting MP Michelle Landry.”

One Nation’s new look. Spotted in The Australian this morning: One Nation is applying to change its name. But what would they possibly choose? “Pauline Hanson’s One Nation” is the proposed new name, according to the notice, because Hanson and One Nation weren’t already one and the same in the minds of many in the public. It’s quite the trend at the moment for minor parties to use the name of their founder or main representative in the name, with the Jacqui Lambie Network and the John Madigan Manufacturing and Farming Party recent applicants to the Australian Electoral Commission. We put the question into One Nation HQ about why they felt the need to be more closely aligned with the Hanson brand, but didn’t hear back by deadline.

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Peter Fray

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