From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Derryn Hinch, the movie. A caller to 2GB yesterday afternoon says that the next famous Australian to have his life immortalised in a television mini-series is the Human Headline himself, Derryn Hinch. With a career including stints in jail, death threats from underworld figures and a rush for a liver transplant, there’s no doubt there’s a meaty story there. We asked Hinch if he had heard about the series, but like us he had only heard the rumour. When asked if it was a good idea, Hinch said his story was far from over — “They should wait until I get elected to the Senate.” The former broadcaster’s plans to run for Parliament were reported late last year, and now the Derryn Hinch Justice Party is not far from official registration. Hinch says there will be two candidates in every state, and the party will make an effort to speak to voters in regional parts of the country.

We just wonder who would play Hinch in a miniseries?  While some in the Crikey bunker suggested Michael Caton, Jack Thompson and Eric Bana, Hinch himself nominated Kris Kristofferson. He’d have to work on the accent, though. Ms Tips suggested Russell Crowe, because like Hinch, he was born in New Zealand but now calls Australia home. “I could handle Romper Stomper,” Hinch laughed at the suggestion.

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The most exciting time to be a unicorn hunter. Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison just might be running out of ideas, yesterday promising that he would not be selling the Australian people a unicorn. Moz was so taken with the phrase he repeated it a few times. Labor’s Andrew Leigh has also joined in on the war against unicorns:

“After five and half months in the job, Treasurer Scott Morrison has finally made a clear and emphatic policy commitment: there will be no sale of unicorns on his watch.”

“While some may find the Treasurer’s hard line on mythical creatures unusual, it is entirely consistent with this Liberal Government’s fantasy approach to budgeting.

“After all, these are the people who promised they could deliver surplus budgets every year without cutting spending or raising new taxes.

“Labor congratulates Scott Morrison for having developed a clear and well-formed position on unicorns. “

We’re not sure why Leigh is so hard on ScoMo for name-checking a mythical beast. After all, most of the Coalition’s fiscal policy is based upon such a creature: the rarely seen and but much storied “budget emergency”.

Office romance over. Two senior staff members of a New South Wales government agency have recently had their positions terminated, and Crikey understands that it was because of a relationship between the pair. According to a tispter, the relationship went on for over a year and affected the running of the department. Crikey has contacted the parties involved, but has not received a response to questions. If you know more, get in touch — you can remain anonymous if you wish.

Abbott’s bad investment advice. Readers may recall the Abbott government hopping into the Australian National University for divesting in resources company Santos in August 2014. The then-prime minister himself, Tony Abbott, described ANU’s decision as “stupid”, while other ministers like Jamie Briggs, Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey all attacked the university. And the Financial Review joined in, running a nasty little campaign against the university over its decision. So if ANU had followed all that expert political and media advice and retained its investment in Santos, how would it have fared? Since Abbott’s “stupid” remark, Santos’s share price has fallen over 72%. And this morning, the company announced a whopping $2.7 billion loss as it struggles with a collapse in oil prices, prompting another slide in its share price. Spare a thought for far-right Tasmanian Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic — Nikolic has been enthusiastically buying Santos shares for a couple of years now as the share price has fallen ever further. Maybe if Nikolic gets his long-held wish for Iran to be attacked by the West, oil prices will soar again and lift Santos back to profitability?

Plus ca change … Yesterday we reported that NSW Premier Mike Baird’s office was researching “bullet resistant glazing” in an effort to bolster their security. A tipster tells us that Baird wouldn’t be the first NSW premier to take a serious approach to personal security — Bob Askin, who was premier from 1965 to 1975, was also known to be careful. According to the tipster, Askin, who since his death has been accused of corruption, “had the air-conditioning vents in his office boarded over to prevent any assassination attempt via AC duct. His worry was his criminal associates.” Looks like security detail is a bit more professional now.

Abetz getting in touch with his inner child. While Eric Abetz was snubbed (at least according to the Hobart Mercury) in Malcolm Turnbull’s latest reshuffle, it looks like he has finally found a branch of the Liberal Party to give him the respect he deserves. Abetz announced this morning that he had been appointed as the Federal Patron of the National Young Liberals, after young Tasmanian Claire Chandler was elected as federal president of the group. While the youth of the Liberal Party wear more chinos, blue ties and RM Williams than your average 24-year-old, the choice of Abetz is interesting. Surely they could have picked Wyatt Roy, who is closer to their age? Or maybe Abetz is the only one with time for the gig?

Life imitating art? The Blind Giant is Dancing opened at the Belvoir Theatre in Sydney this week, dredging up the not-so-glory years of NSW Labor in the 1970s and ’80s. While we think most in the ALP would prefer a break from thinking about internal machinations and factional infighting, state opposition leader Luke Foley went along and posted this review on Twitter:

luke foley


He who doth protest too much …?

They do things differently in the ACT. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr dropped by ABC Canberra 666 this morning for a stint of talk-back, which Canberra’s residents took as an opportunity to grill Barr on all sorts of municipal issues.

But then, one listener heard a very familiar voice.

“Good Morning Chief Minister, I’ve just got a curious problem with some prohibited bamboo that is growing in a next door neighbours property which has sort of reached three metres in height,” asked “Andrew”, who a tipster thought sounded suspiciously like ABC national security and defence reporter Andrew Greene.

The caller was after some legal advice. “It’s considered a prohibited plant, we have had it identified by a very helpful ACT government inspector, but I’m wondering what the next step is.”

“Have you had a conversation with the neighbour about this?” Barr asked. “Is this a case of them not willing to do anything about it or perhaps not able to?”

“It’s a rented property, so the neighbours are more than sympathetic to the problem and think that it may be even affecting their own property. But we’ve gone through the property manager who has said that anything that comes on to your side is your responsibility — the problem being it’s starting to affect our own property.”

Barr promised to get the caller’s details off-air to follow it up with him. We asked Greene if he was the one who put the call but didn’t hear back by deadline.

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

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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