From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Labor in their cups. It was an eventful weekend at the New South Wales ALP conference, where Saturday night’s dinner for the Right faction of the party ended with a senior staffer getting a faceful of someone else’s drink. At an event attended by 400 people, Ian McNamara, ally of ousted general secretary Jamie Clements and staffer to federal leader Bill Shorten, accused former staffer Stefanie Jones of making up sexual assault allegations.

Earlier this year Jones dropped an application for an apprehended violence order against Clements, after she accused him of trying to kiss her in a room of NSW Parliament in June last year. The application was dropped after Clements agreed to several undertakings on a no-admissions basis, but he continued to dispute Jones’ allegations and reportedly asked the NSW branch for $1 million in order for his resignation.

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According to a tipster, McNamara accused Jones of dividing the party and the Right faction for her own advantage. Jones’ fiance, David Latham, “settled the argument by throwing the remainder of his drink in McNamara’s face while Labor Right party officials, union bosses and Young Labor hacks watched on”. Crikey has attempted to contact Latham but received no response before deadline.

Ciobo in space. Reaching into the past of our new frontbench, a tipster pointed us towards this footage of new Trade Minister Steve Ciobo. Titled “Accelerate your Candidate”, Ciobo appears in a carnival ride called the “Sling Shot”, joking about Kevin Rudd and launching his career before being catapaulted into the air. After the initial accelaration, Ciobo jokes about schoolies stealing his corflutes.

steve ciobo

Anti-bullying bullies act like schoolchildren. In a move reminiscent of playground antics by eight-year-olds, a group of “concerned” parents who wish to “speak up” and “protect our children from perversion in the classroom” have attacked the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria’s Facebook.

The Safe Schools Coalition is the anti-bullying program focusing on LGBTI issues and students (the program has been around for years, but The Australian weirdly got involved last week). The paper has written extensively about how the program blurs the line between gay activism and education and has argued the “anti-bullying message has been lost in all the LGBTI rainbow flag-waving”.

The “STOP Safe Schools Coalition” Facebook page was created just under a week ago and has already garnered a few hundred members. The page does not reveal if it is connected to the Australian Christian Lobby, the main group campaigning against the Safe Schools curriculum, and on Saturday the STOP Safe Schools page urged its followers to leave one-star reviews on the Safe Schools Coalition page. The post read “click on [their Facebook page] and give them the one star review they deserve and your reasons why.”

Since the call was made, more than 50 one-star reviews were posted. Since then the Safe Schools page requested that its followers leave positive reviews to counter the online attack. For a debate around children being bullied, the adults involved aren’t setting a great example.

MPs love their Valentines. While many people in loved-up relationships took to social media yesterday to show their appreciation for their partners, some pollies used the day, and their happy snaps, to set the agenda.

Unfortunately for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, his message to wife Lucy attracted an onslaught of criticism from marriage-equality supporters who lamented the PM’s celebration of love and marriage when simultaneously denying the right to same-sex couples.

turnbull valentines

For opposition leader Bill Shorten, it wasn’t as much a message of love as it was a political message, writing on Facebook that he was “lucky enough to meet and marry Chloe, but unfortunately not all Australians are lucky enough to marry the one they love”.

bill shorten valentines

NSW Premier Mike Baird used the message to ackowledge that the ongoing backlash against Sydney’s lockout laws was tough.

mike baird valentines

Roses are red, cakes are yellow. Science Minister Christopher Pyne spent the day of romance with the ABC’s Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, TV chef Adam Liaw and independent Senator Nick Xenophonat the Adelaide Fringe Festival. In a cake baking competition Xenophon repeated his submarine cake, while Pyne came up with this tribute to the Prime Minister:

pyne cake

Lyle’s fear of being labelled gay. On Patricia Karvelas’ new show on Sky News last night, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton confirmed that he had been part of discussions for an official “no” campaign (as reported by Crikey last year) against same-sex marriage should the government’s plebiscite on the issue go ahead, but the whole 15-minute discussion is a useful example of the weakness of the entire argument he would mount. Shelton argued a slippery-slope fallacy that commercial surrogacy for gay couples “would be next” if same-sex marriage became law, and then, at one point, when questioned how same-sex marriage would affect his own marriage, Shelton said it would mean people would no longer assume he was straight:

“If the definition of marriage is changed, it is no longer assumed that millions of people like myself who are married — it’s assumed I’m married to a woman. It’s no longer assumed… Suddenly the terms of my marriage [have] changed.”

No doubt the millions of gay people who daily deal with people assuming they are straight will have some sympathy for him.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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