From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Help wanted. The Attorney-General’s Department quietly placed job advertisements on its website on Friday — for the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Age Discrimination Commissioner and Human Rights Commissioner, all to start in July 2016. It’s interesting timing, considering the role of Disability Discrimination Commissioner has been empty for more than a year, with Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan taking on responsibilities in that area as well as her own. Ryan’s role has also been advertised (she ends her term in July), as has the role that was created for Freedom Boy Tim Wilson, which he has vacated to run for Parliament. Crikey sister site The Mandarin has pointed out that complaints related to the Disability Discrimination Act are the most common complaints received by the HRC, comprising 31%. Complaints relating to the Race Discrimination Act are the next most common, at 24%, followed by complaints related to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act at 20%. That means that the area that has received the most number of complaints has been given no priority by the government, while it has rushed to advertise Wilson’s position and is even advertising Ryan’s position in a timely manner. Why the discrepancy in how each area is treated?

What is a reference? The list of Liberals who have lined up to give references to Bronwyn Bishop’s challengers in the preselction race for the seat of Mackellar is growing, but a tipster tells us that there’s a marked difference between the plaudits given to both Jason Falinski and those given to hard-right candidate Walter Villatora. Both have references written by Premier Mike Baird, but all is not equal:

“Walter Villatora does indeed have a reference from Baird but it was provided some time ago and was naturally given to Villatora due to his work as Tony Abbott’s campaign manager for Warringah — a seat which shares its footprint with Baird’s state seat of Manly.  You could call this reference a ‘general’ type of document.  Contrast this with the new and specific reference Baird has provided Falinski lauding his entrepreneurial abilities and long-time party involvement at various levels including as President of the Young Liberals and you are left in absolutely no doubt as to whom Baird supports.  Baird’s reference also sends a message to the moderates and centre-right basically saying ‘no factional deals for Bronny’, it’s time she was gone.”

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Crikey has seen a copy of Baird’s reference for Falinski, which gets straight to the point: “I write to support Jason Falinski’s nomination to be the Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Mackellar in the 2016 election.”

Falinski also gets references from former premier Nick Greiner and Bishop’s former colleague and minister Amanda Vanstone, with Vanstone labelling him “a true believer, a committed Liberal” and emphasising that he sticks with his friends through think and thin. Greiner also makes the case for “generational change we need to remain strong into the future”, focusing on Falinski’s experience in business.

Says our tipster,  “All three leave no doubt who they support — Falinski.  It’s also rumoured Falinski could even obtain references, should he want, from very senior current federal ministers who are also anxious to see the back of their old colleague, Mrs Bishop.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Bishop probably has a maximum of 30 votes out of a possible 96 from preselectors, but that’s optimistic, according to our insider:

“Assuming Villatora bows out before Falinski in the exhaustive ballot and most of his hard right votes flow to Falinski (a moderate) that will leave Falinski just short of the 50% vote required but with about 20 votes left to distribute between the last two candidates standing.  It beggars belief Bishop could gain enough votes to keep her in office so the likely upshot will be a comfortable win for Falinski.”

Turnbull’s Selina Meyer’s moment. By now all corners of the Australian media are chortling at the fact that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s latest talking point bears a striking similarity to the slogan used by Vice President Selina Meyer in HBO’s sitcom political Veep, but now the creators of the American show are shaking their heads as well:


Simon Blackwell tweet

Chris Addison tweet

JLD tweet

Pissing in the wind. While the government is trying to win environmental kudos with today’s announcement about the new $1 billion clean energy fund, it is also funding research into the health effects of wind farms. The National Health and Medical Research Council announced yesterday that two grants, worth $3.3 million all up, would address the poor quality of evidence currently available in the area. Associate professor Peter Catcheside from Flinders University has been awarded a $1.3 million grant to research the effects of infrasound on sleep, and Professor Guy Marks from the University of New South Wales was awarded a $1.9 million grant to research the effects of wind turbines on human health. So it looks like the residents who claimed their dogs and cattle were suffering will have to wait for research in that area.

DJ Dasher. It’s day two of the 103-day election campaign, which means the bills will be racking up quickly for our pollies as they try to hold onto their jobs. Labor MP Tim Watts, who has been known for creative fundraising in the past, has recruited NSW Senator Sam Dastyari as DJ Dasher for a dance party in Footscray next month. Is his music taste as good as DJ Albo’s? Or will the playlist be very Taylor Swift-heavy?

DJ Dasher

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