From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Metaphorically speaking. The opening of yesterday’s National Reform Summit had an optimistic tone, but a tipster noticed an odd metaphor (or perhaps a Freudian slip?) in the introduction by PwC managing partner Tom Seymour. In an otherwise interesting speech about the challenges for the tax system, Seymour introduced Treasurer Joe Hockey and the job ahead, saying “only a clear and consistently explained narrative, tenaciously fought for by those in government, will get the tax reform can kicked further down Main Street in the coming years”. What now? Kicking the can down the road? Is that really what we want when it comes to reform? According to the Grammarist website, the phrase is well used in American politics, meaning “to defer conclusive action with a short-term solution”. We think Seymour should probably have used “get the ball rolling”, but considering where the government actually is on tax reform — ruling out changes to the GST, to superannuation and to negative gearing — kicking the can down the road sounds perfect.

Arise, sir Bruyn. Over the weekend, Oz foreign affairs editor Greg Sheridan said we shouldn’t be so quick to spurn Bill Shorten’s “moderate” unionism, as Joe de Bruyn showed how successful a moderate approach to unionism could be.

The former SDA chief, Crikey readers would be well aware, has a controversial role in the modern ALP. Though he’s now retired, the socially conservative union leaders and politicians he’s helped put into positions of power are why the Labor Party refuses to do things like bind on gay marriage.

But de Bruyn is unfairly vilified in the press, Sheridan wrote, after praising the union leader to high heaven. You see, de Bruyn helped defeat communism.

“Next month the Polish government will present a high award to an Australian citizen,” Sheridan wrote.

“The President of the Republic of Poland has awarded Joe de Bruyn, until recently the national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, with the Officer’s Cross of his country’s Order of Merit. This is a high award and it recognises a singular and magnificent commitment to fundamental human decency and wholly praiseworthy union solidarity.”

What is this award? Googling the English internet finds little record of it aside from Sheridan’s column, though Ms Tips has been trying since the weekend. Yesterday though, she asked a Polish-speaking friend to do his own search, and voila, he found a record of Bruyn’s award, in a government gazette from February 18. Polish-speakers can read it below, but the gist is that de Bruyn is among 31 people designated to receive the award this year, for “distinguished/outstanding service in supporting democratic changes in Poland”. As Sheridan points out, the SDA under de Bruyn’s leadership helped raise nearly $1 million in donated funds for Solidarity, the Polish dockworkers’ union that spearheaded a widespread social movement against communism in Poland. The SDA’s support for Solidarity is not out of character — both unions are conservative, Catholic-dominated bodies.

The officer’s cross is the fourth out of five possible ranks of the Polish order of merit. All ranks can only be awarded to foreigners, or Poles living abroad, in recognition of services to Poland.

 

Picking the crowd. Queensland LNP MP George Christensen has decided that he will speak at a Reclaim Australia rally in Mackay on Sunday, telling his Facebook followers: “I want to support people who seek to defend our Australian way of life, our culture and our freedoms from the threat of radical Islam. I made the decision to speak after reviewing the Reclaim movement’s 24 principles”. He says “hell will freeze over” before he gives in to the “intimidation” of a GetUp petition asking him not to attend. Christensen has already been a staunch supporter of Reclaim Australia, responsible for rallies involving violent scuffles with opponents across the country.

Compare the pair. Which newspaper published an editorial featuring the following sentence in 2013?

“The key, therefore, is to facilitate a market-based mechanism which does not punish producers at a delicate time for our economy but rather enhances competition and encourages new technologies that in time can deliver clean and affordable electricity for consumers.

Most important is that all sides of the debate approach the problem in a measured, rational and sensible way. Otherwise what kind of world are we trying to save?”

The Age? The Australian? The Betoota Advocate? Guess again, it was the Daily Telegraph. Yes, the same Daily Telegraph that published this front page yesterday warning us of a zombie carbon tax coming to eat our brains/economy.

Spoke too soon. Andrew Landeryou never did return our calls, but after yesterday’s tip about the gossip site’s archives being down, the Vex News Twitter account briefly roared back into life to say the archives would be restored soon. “Concerned vanity-searchers be assured normal transmission will be resumed shortly,” the account said. Oh, goodie …

Arts out in the cold. Yesterday we reported that the Art Gallery of New South Wales had warned staff that it would save $800,000 in the next financial year through redundancies, and that the membership desk run by volunteers would be removed from the gallery. Asked about the changes and why they were happening, a spokesperson told us:

“Like other NSW government organisations, the Art Gallery of New South Wales needs to find savings in the current financial year through measures such as efficiency dividends and procurement changes.  The Gallery is working through this process and no decision has yet been made about whether redundancies may be needed. The Gallery is first looking at ways of finding savings through other means.”

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Peter Fray
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