From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

B-I-N-G-Joe. While former treasurer Joe Hockey has already vacated Parliament (and is reportedly lapping up the sun and peaceful neeoooww neeooow of the MotoGP in Valencia, Spain), his colleagues took the chance to farewell him in the Federation Chamber yesterday, where his work in the local electorates of his colleagues was fondly remembered. Anthony Albanese used the chance to needle Hockey about his musical taste, rightly shaming him for his love of Nickelback. Hockey’s colleague Tony Pasin expressed his disappointment that Hockey wouldn’t be able to use his counting skills in his local electorate:

“Joe’s journey is one which is an inspiration to all Australians. But I must say it is a massive disappointment, because I had always planned to have Joe Hockey in my electorate to call bingo at Murray Bridge. I just thought that the nation’s leading bean counter calling bingo in a small country town would be a great thing. Maybe he will do that once he completes his obligations for the nation elsewhere. I suppose it is an open invitation to Joe. If he ever wants to join me in Murray Bridge to call bingo at the local hotel, I am sure they will have him.”

Speaking after five others, Queensland MP Ewen Jones displayed his unique way with words — as always providing an image that can not easily be forgotten:

“In starting this speech and in listening to the previous contributions, I am struck with the same sort of feeling as must have come before Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth husband on their wedding night: you know what to do, but you just do not how to make it interesting! There have been a fair few things said about Joe Hockey.”

Where’s Abbott? Speaking of recently deposed leaders, Tony Abbott was absent from question time again yesterday. Like Hockey, he has also been touring around Europe, but it had been reported that he was due back in the country yesterday morning. Maybe he couldn’t stomach the constituent questions either.

You heard it here first. Labor MP for the safe seat of Wills in Melbourne Kelvin Thomson has announced that he won’t be seeking re-election next year. The announcement had been rumoured in Fairfax yesterday and Crikey had received numerous tips that some in the ALP had their eye on the seat. He said in a statement:

“I have had a very tough year personally, with a heart attack and the loss of several family members, and it is now time for me to attend to other priorities in life.”

Wills covers inner northern suburbs such as Brunswick, Coburg and Pascoe Vale and was once held by former prime minister Bob Hawke. As we’ve previously reported, names such as former Rudd staffer and now Mamamia editor-in-chief Jamila Rivzi, and Moreland councillor Meghan Hopper have been connected with the seat. Fairfax reported yesterday that Senator Mehmet Tillem is a leading candidate for preselection, as is ACTU president Ged Kearney. Thomson won the seat with 65% of the two party preferred vote in 2013 with preferences from the Greens.

MyGov is your problem. The Ombudsman has decided not to investigate mass lockouts from the MyGov online portal that occurred earlier this year, telling one frustrated user that the systems in place for redress were adequate, although inconvenient. It was reported in August that software failures and a lack of capacity had caused people to be locked out of their accounts on the government service, which provides access to tax, Centrelink and Medicare services, with some users taking their complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. A frustrated tipster shared the Ombudsman response with Crikey, in which the complaint was not upheld. According to the Ombudsman, it’s inconvenient, but not unreasonable, to have to open a new account with a new email address, or wait up to 15 days for the account to be manually unlocked.

Fragile masculinity. Controversial former newspaper columnist and former White Ribbon ambassador Tanveer Ahmed, known for his view that domestic violence is caused by the disempowerment of men, is back pushing his point. Ahmed will be one of the speakers at an International Men’s Day event on November 19, debating the topic “If masculinity is in crisis, what needs to change, men or society?”.

So help us. While much has been made of the diversity of the newly sworn in cabinet in Canada, one tipster found it interesting that half of the new ministers in Justin Trudeau’s government skipped saying the line “so help me god” in their oaths of office. It’s a big difference from Australia, where in 2013 almost 80% of all members swore a religious oath and just 21% made a secular affirmation. In the most recently sworn in cabinet only Marise Payne and Simon Birmingham made an affirmation instead of swearing on the Bible.

How many staff does it take … President Barack Obama made his first foray onto Facebook today, with the President Obama page to have a separate presence to that of the White House page. While Obama released a supposedly candid video mentioning that there’s a hawk called Lincoln in his backyard, The New York Times is reporting today that his social media is managed by a team of 20 people, who make an effort to make Obama’s posts seem like they take no effort at all:

“A push at the White House to build up a social media presence for Mr. Obama in his own voice. The goal is to bring a sense of spontaneity and accessibility to one of the world’s most choreographed and constricted positions.”

So that’s what it takes to be spontaneous — 22 staffers planning your every online utterance.

Violent nightlife. Is it a case of a slip of the tongue or the journo getting it wrong? A story in the Townsville Bulletin yesterday reports that pub owners are angry over a 1am lockout proposal in the city’s nighlife areas, and quotes Queensland Attorney General Yvette D’Ath saying that the laws wouldn’t be a problem for suburban venues:

 The article has now been changed to quote D’Ath extolling the area’s “vibrantt [sic] night-life”.

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

Peter Fray

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