From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Urgent yet winsome. Treasurer Scott Morrison will speak at a conference run by the lobby group behind the attacks on the Safe Schools Coalition, alongside News Corp columnist Miranda Devine and Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson. The event, to be held in Sydney in April, is the annual conference of the Australian Christian Lobby and is advertised with the theme “Cultivating Courage”. The program so far does not list the topic of Morrison’s speech, but his religious views are well known. The big draw for the conference is American Eric Metaxas, who is advertised as having “an urgent yet winsome message for Christians today”. The ticket page for the event says:

“There’s no doubt it is becoming harder to be a Christian in Australia.

Elite opinion mocks faith.

Some activists seek to silence Christian voices.

Media often scoffs at any trace of timeless, Christian faith.

But our nation has been blessed and shaped by the transforming power of the gospel.

Christianity has shaped our morals, our institutions and our laws. Everyone has benefited.

As we live as people of faith in modern Australia, courage is needed now more than ever.”

Metaxas is a best-selling author and broadcaster and was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith. Recently, he took Donald Trump’s side in his beef with Pope Francis, and encouraged his followers to stop shopping at a department store that featured an interview with feminist and pro-choice activist Gloria Steinem in its catalogue. He has a daily radio show, syndicated by Christian radio network the Salem Radio Network (yes, that is really its name). He also has a beef with the mainstream media — for not covering his chat with Ted Cruz at the National Religious Broadcasters Conference, where he asked what it was like to be up close with Donald Trump’s hair.

Another speaker, Jeffery J Ventrella, is senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, at whose conference former prime minister Tony Abbott spoke last month. Ventrella has spoken against same-sex marriage and has also written about the “health issues” associated with being gay:

“There is a price to be paid for ignoring the fixed natural order of things.  And all the money, along with every program the LCCHR is seeking, cannot change the fact that those who practice homosexual behavior face the consequences of living a life that runs counter to that order.  Sticking one’s head in the sand for the sake of not assessing the dangers of one’s sexual or political preferences won’t actually change how the natural order works.

Those choosing these behaviors should turn from them to regain for their own sakes the healthfulness and longevity that comes with living life in the real world.”

Along with that ray of sunshine, the conference also features the ACL’s regulars: Lyle Shelton, Jim Wallace and Wendy Francis.

Great Scott! Speaking of Scott Morrison, the treasurer returned to his regular timeslot on Ray Hadley’s program on 2GB today, saying that he was glad that Hadley missed him, but he was too busy doing his job to come on the show last week. Morrison revealed very little, saying a possible rise to the GST was off the table due to the possibility of high levels of compensation but giving little away on whether the PM would call a double dissolution election right after the budget. The chat wasn’t as jovial as the pair have been in the past, with Morrison most excited when Hadley took the time to update the listeners on golfer Adam Scott’s progress at the Honda Classic in the US. “Awesome!” Morrison exclaimed at the news Scott was putting for the win, and once it was confirmed, used it to have a go at the US economy.

Briggs report blocked. He has been sacked from the ministry and now resides on the backbench, but the report investigating Jamie Briggs’ behaviour towards a female DFAT staffer in a Hong Kong bar has been blocked from release under freedom of information laws. The Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet argued the report, written by former bureaucrat Lynelle Briggs — no relation — was a cabinet document, and would impact on the department’s ability to provide timely, responsive and frank advice to the PM on issues concerning the conduct of a minister. The release of the report would also potentially compromise the privacy of the staffer who complained about Briggs’ behaviour, PM&C argued.

Identifying details about the staffer (excluding her name), including a photo taken on the night in question, were published in The Australian.

Billson irreplaceable. A disgruntled tipster in the Riviera of Melbourne tells us some Liberals aren’t happy with their party’s pick to replace former small business minister Bruce Billson:

“Local Liberals have themselves tied up in knots in the seat of Dunkley. Those disgruntled about the preselection outcome are quick to point out that the new Liberal candidate has never had anything to do with this electorate. An agricultural export consultant, he apparently only moved down from the country two months ago (just in time for preselection).”

Chris Crewther was selected by the party last weekend, after he was unsuccessful for his bid for the seat of Mallee at the 2013 election. It wouldn’t be the first time someone from either major party created a local connection with an area once the opportunity for a safe seat came up, but noses are out of joint on the peninsula — there were eight candidates vying for the spot. Of course, none of them are Bruce, which is the real drawback for every candidate.

Six-point plan. A tipster in the superannuation industry reports:

“Financial Services Council CEO Sally Loane made a major speech on Friday in which she talked about her ‘six point plan’ for the superannuation industry.  Clearly she hasn’t seen this video of how six point plans can be problematic. But putting that aside, the other part of her speech was her giving a potted history of superannuation over the last 30 years.  She spent a considerable amount of time walking her audience through the development of super in this country, key milestones, regulatory changes and who the central players were over the decades.  There was however one startling omission from her history — unions didn’t get a single mention.  That’s right, in ‘FSC World’, trade unions, who campaigned for compulsory super for years and who have been centrally involved in super for decades, had precisely nothing to do with it.  Airbrushed out like Trotsky on the May Day podium.  The increasingly ideological FSC is quite possible losing all grip of reality.”

Who’s that? As we publish today, Hollywood’s best and whitest will be patting themselves on the back for a job well done this year. The social media team at Total Beauty, a make-up website, won’t be, after tweeting a photo of Whoopi Goldberg and calling her Oprah.

not oprah

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Peter Fray

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