From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Malcolm changes his mind. Going from opposition into government, however enjoyable, can be rather fraught for politicians because of the sudden reversals that they need to make on policies enthusiastically spruiked or opposed when they were on the other side of the chamber. Behold Malcolm Turnbull — harsh critic of data retention in 2012 while in opposition, transformed into the lead minister on the introduction of mass surveillance in government. And sadly Malcolm has not merely had to switch policy positions, it appears he’s undergone a sea-change on the efficacy of cost-benefit analyses to government policy. Readers will recall Turnbull was a determined advocate of getting the Productivity Commission to conduct a full-scale cost-benefit analysis of the NBN when in opposition — indeed, he even introduced a private member’s bill to that effect. What good would a CBA by the hardheads at the PC have done? “I think if the Productivity Commission gave us a very big tick, it would be incredibly persuasive and I think most people would expect everybody to support it then — that would be incredibly persuasive,” Turnbull told SBS at the time.

Fast forward a couple of years, however, and Turnbull apparently no longer cares for PC assessments: his office has ruled out asking the PC to conduct an analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite the chairman of the PC, Peter Harris, calling for such an analysis back in July. Then again, Harris was the reason Turnbull eventually abandoned a CBA of the broadband project after the election — the new minister thought there was an issue with Harris having been secretary of communications when the NBN was being rolled out. No such problem exists with Harris now regarding the TPP — but for some reason Turnbull prefers the “national interest analysis” of the TPP that will be prepared for the Treaties Committee when it considers the deal. Who’ll prepare the NIA? The very DFAT bureaucrats who negotiated the deal. Makes Harris’s faux-conflict of interest over the NBN look fairly trivial, eh, Prime Minister?

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Could an election be almost upon us? We hear from well-placed sources that the Labor Party is expecting a federal election to be imminent — in late November, in fact. We understand that head honchos in the ALP are researching the ad space available between now and a November poll. It seems implausible — with the announcement that Brian Loughnane is stepping down as president of the Liberal Party, it seems unlikely that Malcolm Turnbull will be calling on Yarralumla any time soon. What does Labor know that we don’t?

‘These are their stories.’ The trade union royal commission rolls on, although yesterday it struggled with the live stream system it uses to broadcast proceedings to people outside the courtroom. After proceedings were paused to find another option, the stream went up using YouTube — and we couldn’t help but notice the commission’s username was “Law In Order”. We’re hoping that Olivia Benson will be a guest in next week’s hearings.

An early (and roary) birthday present for Clive? Yesterday we noted that a Melbourne company was urgently trying to sell 20 animatronic dinosaurs as part of a receivers’ sale, and that the “specially designed, museum quality exhibits” had most recently been displayed in Queensland. Could they belong to MP and dinosaur fan Clive Palmer, we asked. It would surely make them more vaulable. Our dreams were crushed yesterday with a phone call from Matt Byrnes at the receivers’, telling us they were not Palmer’s dinosaurs at all, but had been at the Queensland Museum. Byrnes was coy on the asking price for the dinosaurs, but said they were hoping to sell them as a set, which put an end to Ms Tips dream of putting a dinosaur in the front yard. Seeing as they aren’t Palmer’s dinosaurs already, we thought he would be the ideal customer for the exhibits (especially after the unfortunate demise of Jeff). But when we called Palmer’s media rep Andrew Crook to ask if he was interested, he replied with “nah, you guys just keep making stories up, that’s good” and hung up on us. Some reward for trying to bring man and dinosaur together.

Who What’s your “daddy”?. Yesterday BuzzFeed explored the trend among young Twitter users to call Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull “daddy” and send him tweets like this, which according to BuzzFeed means they find the new PM attractive: “It’s generally a thirsty term applied to handsome, older men who will ‘take care’ of young men/women in need of protection. Like, a father figure.” In true BuzzFeed style, it followed with a quiz to determine who your political “daddy” would be. Claudia Perkins, Greens MP Adam Bandt’s wife, seems to have done the quiz and got someone other than him:

What’s in a name? The Central Land Council, a statutory indigenous-governed authority in the Northern Territory, has criticised The Australian for an incorrectly worded article published in yesterday’s paper, saying “(we) can do without having our reputation trashed”.

The article, headlined “Scullion puts new broom through land council”, reported on changes to the board of the “Indigenous Land Council”, referencing a purchase of the Ayers Rock Resort. The changes were actually to the Indigenous Land Corporation. The Central Land Council posted on its Facebook page that the article had trashed its reputation.

“It’s a sad day when the Coalition government’s in-house newsletter, also known as The Australian, is either incapable of re-writing a government media release or can’t tell the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) apart from the land councils,” CLC posted on Facebook.

The Australian has since corrected the mistake online and has published a correction in Friday’s newspaper.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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