From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Finding the next Freedom Boy. While Tim Wilson is busy wooing the voters of Melbourne’s leafy beachside suburbs, the government is using his former position as Human Rights Commissioner as yet another front to attack the Labor Party — but Attorney-General George Brandis probably needs to have a look at his own backyard before having a spray on human rights. In a statement yesterday Brandis attacked Labor for committing to leave the role empty if it formed government, while making the Disability Commissioner role full time: “It shows how little Labor cares about our fundamental political freedoms, including freedom of speech, opinion, religion, association and freedom of the press, that it is once again proposing to abandon this role.”

If Freedom Boy was a sign of the Coalition’s commitment to free speech and freedom of the press, we shouldn’t be too disappointed that Labor wouldn’t re-fill the role. During the last two years of this government, we have ended up with mandatory data retention, the gagging of professionals working with asylum seekers in detention and security laws making it illegal to report on ASIO’s special intelligence operations. While Wilson argued for better safeguards for data retention, we still ended up with the laws.

Brandis also announced that the government has decided on who will replace Wilson, as well as new disability and age discrimination commissioners, to be announced next week.

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“Yesterday, the Turnbull Government decided to appoint an eminently qualified Australian to be the next Human Rights Commissioner.

“As well, the Government yesterday decided to appoint two other eminent Australians to the positions of Disability Discrimination Commissioner and Age Discrimination Commissioner, respectively. The appointment of three new commissioners will give the Australian Human Rights Commission its full complement of Commissioners.

“The appointees will be announced next week following consideration by the Governor-General at Executive Council.”

While the process to appoint new commissioners was started more than a month ago, the final announcement is due in what is likely to be the final week before the government enters caretaker mode.

Donations they forgot. As we gear up for the election campaign, our opaque donation disclosure system means that we are still only just finding out about donations made in elections that happened two years ago. In a disclosure made to the Australian Electoral Commission last month, the Construction Forestry, Mining and Energy Union declared that it had made a $55,000 donation to the Victorian branch of the ALP on October 31, 2014 — a month before the poll that brought Labor leader Daniel Andrews to power, kicking out a one-term Liberal government. While more than a few months overdue, the revelation comes at a bad time for Andrews, who is being accused of capitulating to the United Firefighters Union over transferring power away from volunteer firefighters. Just to show it’s not merely unionists who have bad memories when it comes to donations, Novartis Pharmaceuticals also revealed more than $100,000 worth of donations to both the Liberal and Labor parties in the 2014-15 financial year.

That’s forked up. While most of us don’t pay much attention to the humble fork, artist Van Rudd has been collecting forks used by the rich and powerful to be displayed at the Footscray Community Arts Centre next week. Rudd has collected the forks, including those used by Rupert Murdoch, Prince Harry and Hillary Clinton, while working in hospitality at functions attended by the 1%. The Facebook page for “The Rich Forks” describes the project:

“What if luxury dinner forks of the wealthy one percent were taken from under their noses and displayed to the public? This ongoing exhibition is a result of that exact task. Taking something back. Re-appropriating a tiny piece of the vast amount of wealth stolen from us. Just think of the #panamapapers revealing that as of 2014, at least $7.6 trillion of the world’s financial wealth – or about 8 percent of the world’s total financial wealth of $95.5 trillion – was ‘missing’. So, this is an ongoing exhibition for the people, by people. It’s a small gesture, but symbolically, and perhaps artistically, it can mean the world.

Luxury dinner forks have been swiped (or ‘di-Looted’) over a 15 year period from 5 star hotels from different parts of the world, complete with the saliva and food stains of their users, and will be displayed in public/community spaces locally and around the world in the coming years. This project can also be ongoing.”

prince harry fork

According to Facebook, Rudd is still on the lookout for more forks:

rich forks

Vote 1 Hinch. In the continuing notices of political parties registering their new party logos to be featured on senate ballot papers, today’s papers carry the logos of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and the HEMP Party. Hinch’s logo doesn’t feature his face, like that of Ricky Muir’s Motoring Enthusiast Party, just the words “HINCH JUSTICE”, which conjures vision of scores settled with baseball bats in dark alleys. Of course Hinch is no stranger to the justice system, spending stints in prison and under house arrest for his campaign against suppression orders for child sex offenders. One tipster asked if this would disqualify Hinch from the race, but under Commonwealth law, Hinch is free to run as a candidate as he is not currently serving or awaiting a sentence for a crime that is punishable by a year or more in prison.

hinch justice

The HEMP party may face objections over its logo, as it is unsurprisingly similar to the Drug Law Reform Party, which has similar policies and a similar logo.

hempdruag law reform

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

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