From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
ABC a no-show at Kennedys. The ABC kicked an own goal at this year’s Kennedy Awards for excellence in journalism. The corporation carried off an armful of prizes, but the nabobs of Ultimo pulled their sponsorship at the last minute. So when host Ray Martin asked if Q&A presenter Tony Jones was in the house (the AJC ballroom at Randwick), he was met with a deafening silence. None of the ABC’s A-list attended. Crikey was told that the ABC withdrew its support due to budget cuts, and this seems plausible. However, Friday night’s guests also heard another rumour that the journalists’ union, the Media Alliance, put pressure on the ABC to withdraw support because it feared that its own Walkley Awards were being undermined, which the MEAA’s Paul Murphy has denied, calling it “categorically untrue”.
The ABC’s absence made no obvious difference to the evening’s success. More than 400 journalists hired dinner suits (the boys) and ironed ankle-length frocks (the ladies) to attend the awards function in memory of the late Les Kennedy, an ace crime reporter who worked for The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald and wrote a couple of cracking crime books. Premier Mike Baird and senior cabinet ministers showed up — Deputy Premier Troy Grant, Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian, Energy Minister Anthony Roberts — as well Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas.
The ABC’s Caro Meldrum-Hanna won Journalist of the Year award for her greyhound investigation. She and her Four Corners colleagues Sam Clark and Max Murch also won separate awards for exposing the greyhound cruelty scandal. Meldrum-Hanna was in the winner’s circle again for TV’s outstanding consumer affairs reporting, a first prize that she shared with Ali Russell and Mario Christodoulou. Popular winners were Adele Ferguson and Ruth Richards (SMH) for best finance journalism (a ripping expose of NAB), outstanding news photographer Andrew Meares (SMH), outstanding political journalist Andrew Clennell (Telegraph) and lifetime achievement award to veteran sports writer Ian Heads.
The commercial TV networks flooded their respective categories with coverage of the Lindt Cafe siege, leaving the audience with the impression that the TV crews had been to Stalingrad or the Battle of the Somme instead of parking their cameras in Martin Place.
One noticeable thing: tables occupied by broadsheet journalists from The Australian were raucous and rather loutish while their tabloid cousins from The Daily Telegraph were positively civilised.
The only gay in the village. It was confirmed over the weekend that the Greens will be running footballer Jason Ball as their candidate for the seat of Higgins, against Labor’s Carl Katter, brother of MP Bob Katter. While the Greens threw their support behind Ball, who promptly changed his social media handles to @greensjason, some in Labor found issue with the fact that the Greens had also selected a gay man to run in the electorate (Carl Katter is also gay). Luke Mansillo, who is close to Katter, tweeted yesterday:
Carl Katter has long flagged that he’s interested in a political career, saying he wanted to run before the 2013 election after joining the party in late 2012. We hope that preselection won’t tame Katter’s honest Twitter presence, including this exchange with Freedom Commissioner Tim Wilson in 2013 that was later deleted (and caught by SameSame):
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We were told back then that Katter had been in line to be preselected as the candidate for Prahran in last year’s state election, but that Twitter exchange had cost him the nomination, which ended up going to Neil Pharaoh. Obviously the tweets didn’t get in the way this time — but we hear that no one ran against Katter at all, so Labor didn’t really have another option.
Marriage Equality People. The anti-gay marriage lobby is out in full force today, with the Australian Marriage Forum taking out a full-page advertisement in The Australian:
The advertisement uses many full stops to emphasise its point, which makes it sound like a toddler’s tantrum. It quotes four children of lesbian couples, saying they’ve missed out on having a father. All four are Americans, and have been quoted widely speaking against same-sex marriage. Katy Faust is the author a blog called askthebigot.com and Faust as well as Heather Barwick and Robert Lopez have made submissions to American courts on the issue. Lopez is also founder and president of the International Children’s Rights Institute and has previously compared same-sex parents to slave owners.
Liberal links continue. Also in anti-gay marriage news, the Liberal roots of the Marriage Alliance party have been further exposed. It’s already been reported that the face of the party, Sophie York, stood for preselection for the Liberals in the safe seat of Bradfield in 2009 (she lost to Paul Fletcher), and that former Liberal Party president Professor Ashley Goldsworthy is one of the party’s founders. Marriage Alliance’s media is also being managed by a Liberal powerbroker, Nathaniel Smith of marketing company Hugo Halliday. Smith, the son of former NSW attorney -general Greg Smith, has previously been banned by Hugo Halliday from running for the state executive of the Liberal Party because it was seen as a conflict of interest.
Exclusive watch. As Ms Tips told you last week, the government has today announced funding for a new academic research centre to focus on countering violent extremism, to be called the Australian Intervention Support Hub, located at ANU. The centre will be led by Dr Clarke Jones and Professor Greg Barton. The choice of Jones is a little unusual for this government; he has been a serial critic of the government’s approach to the issue of radicalisation over the last 18 months, and has earned some criticism from the right-wing media for it, but it is a good sign that Michael Keenan, who was elevated over Attorney-General George Brandis to become minister assisting the PM for counter-terrorism, is serious about making headway on the complex and heavily contested issue of what causes radicalisation — indeed, even whether such a thing exists. And a brief shout-out to The Australian, which reported the initiative today under an “Exclusive” label. Try to keep up, slowpokes.