From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Surprise, surprise. The MPs who are forcing a $160 million plebiscite on the Australian public because they don’t want marriage equality to pass through Parliament on a free vote are pushing to delay the plebiscite until 2017, according to a report in the Christian-themed Eternity magazine.

The very MPs who have thrust the unpopular — according to Galaxy and PFLAG polling — plebiscite on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a delaying tactic to end the discrimination against gay couples are now seeking to force the PM to delay it even longer.

Eternity magazine’s August issue reports that according to a “senior Coalition source”, Coalition backbenchers are “fighting to ensure that the plebiscite on same-sex marriage is put back to 2017” on the grounds that conservative Coalition MPs want more time for the case against marriage equality, and that the mysterious group Marriage Alliance — currently in trouble with the Information Commissioner for obtaining Liberal Party email databases without permission — backs this delay.

The magazine argues that the few sitting weeks left in 2016 will be filled with a Senate inquiry into the plebiscite legislation and the drafting of the cases for and against marriage equality.

Conservative Coalition politicians such as Eric Abetz and Cory Bernardi are already signalling that they back a delay, but Attorney-General George Brandis and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have said the plebiscite could be held this year, if the  legislation passes the Senate. Labor leader Bill Shorten has said that Labor would need to see the legislation before deciding whether to block it, but Labor plans to introduce a private member’s bill into the 45th Parliament when it resumes at the end of this month in an attempt to bring on a free vote.

Long-time marriage equality campaigner Rodney Croome has left his director position at Australian Marriage Equality to campaign full-time against the plebiscite, as Crikey flagged earlier this week. He said in an opinion piece in Guardian Australia this week that only four or five Coalition politicians would need to back the legislation in order for marriage equality to pass Parliament.

Gaynor confused. Leader of the Australian Liberty Alliance Bernard Gaynor has called for a recount of the Senate votes in Tasmania, after the Greens’ Nick McKim edged out the One Nation candidate by just 141 votes. The problem (well, one of them anyway) is that Gaynor’s blog makes it seem like the Tasmania result has elected Sarah Hanson-Young, who is the Greens Senator for South Australia, instead of Pauline Hanson, who was elected in Queensland.


Gaynor has asked his followers to sign a petition for a recount, writing:

“A large number of votes in Tasmania were excluded and an additionally large number ‘exhausted’, the vast majority of which came as ‘conservative’ candidates were excluded. In fact, well over 80% of ‘exhausted’ votes came when candidates from the Liberal party, Family First and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party were excluded. Furthermore, many of the votes included in the count were either marked both above and below ‘the line’, contained non-numerical markings, or duplicate or missing numbers, as shown below.”

While Gaynor leads a different party, he holds many similar views to Pauline Hanson when it comes to Islam and halal certification. His petition has fewer than 500 signatures.

Pauline Hanson’s merry band. Speaking of Pauline Hanson, it has been confirmed today that the One Nation party leader will be joined by three other senators under her banner: Rod Culleton from WA (pending a few court cases), Brian Burston in NSW and Malcolm Roberts from Queensland. Until today many psephologists predicted that Roberts would lose out to the Liberal Democrats’ Gabe Buckley, but in the end Hanson’s climate denier got over the line. Roberts is a project leader of the “Galileo Movement“, an organisation that denies that climate change is taking place, and it has been reported that One Nation’s policies on climate change come directly from the positions of the Galileo Movement. On announcement of his election, Roberts posted a statement to his Facebook page, and while most of his statement sticks close to the Hanson line, towards the end we were reminded of someone else with ginger hair trying to get elected:

“We can do this by doing what made our country great — by speaking openly and working with all Australians.”

Gone to the dogs. Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MLC in NSW Robert Borsak has taken to using some “on theme” language when it comes to attacking the NSW government’s plan to ban greyhound racing. A tipster pointed out to us that, at Tuesday’s protest, Borsak said the Nationals should be “not turning over, not reacting and coming to heel, and dry-humping the Liberal Party dog”.

It’s featured in a Shooters and Fishers video on YouTube.


Keep it classy, Borsak.

Beware of census busybodies. While the protests against the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ decision to store names and addresses has taken on a new prominence this year, it’s not the first time Australians have taken issue with the prying nature of collecting our data. Crikey‘s Josh Taylor found this headline from 1966, which referred to early census collectors taking their lives into their own hands while being accused of being “busy bodies”.


In further old reports found by journalist and privacy advocate Asher Wolf, MPs had issues with being asked about their income.

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

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey