From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Red scare. The Crikey bunker is well in the swing of the Olympic spirit, channel-hopping between different sports instead of watching our usual Sky News feed, but one of the most amusing battles isn’t taking place on a court, a field or even in the pool. On Monday, Australia’s Mack Horton won gold in the men’s 400-metre freestyle and made disparaging comments about fellow competitor China’s Sun Yang, who had previously been suspended from the sport for doping. The Olympian’s comments have caused outcry in Chinese state media and social media, which have gone in guns blazing about both Horton and Australia. Sun was suspended for three months in 2014 after taking medication for a heart problem, which had only been declared a banned substance four months earlier. Before the race on Monday, Horton told reporters that he had a rivalry with anyone who had tested positive for drugs, leading to Chinese fans bombarding his social media with demands he apologise. The Global Times, a state-owned, nationalist newspaper has also taken up the case against Horton and in turn Australia. Yesterday the Global Times defended Sun Yang, saying Horton didn’t “act morally”:

“Sun is a distinguished swimmer, and a formidable rival. It is understandable that Horton might have harbored disrespect for Sun for some time. He couldn’t hold in his cynical smugness after beating Sun, and the Australian media recklessly spread Horton’s rude speech.

If Horton won the competition by disrupting his rival in an immoral way, his win is disgraceful, and not in line with the spirit of the Olympics. While challenging another’s morality, Horton didn’t act morally.”

It also said Australia was “on the fringes of civilisation”. Today’s effort takes aim at Australia’s place in the Western world, and of course makes reference to our convict history:

“From China’s perspective, Australia, an English-speaking and developed country, is a typical part of the Western world. But actually, Australia has always been a “second-class citizen” in the West, and many people from Western Europe, especially the UK, feel condescension toward Australians.

“Australia used to be a land populated by the UK’s unwanted criminals, and this remains a stigma attached to Australian culture.

“Eager to be completely accepted by the Western world and afraid of being overlooked, Australia has grown docile and obedient in face of the US and the UK.

“However, in front of Asian countries, it cannot help but effuse its white supremacy. The tangle of inferiority and superiority has numerous reflections in Australia’s foreign exchanges.

“We don’t have to take seriously the tinge of barbarism that comes out of some Australians, nor should we pay keen attention to some vindictive provocations. China cannot be distracted from its own path of development, so it should turn a blind eye to what should be despised.”

As we write, Australia is third in the medal tally, right behind China.

Nothing in it to fear. The Australian Bureau of Statistics is advertising the census this year by using a giant, glowing green “pause” button to encourage people to stop for a moment to fill in the census. The National Film and Sound Archive has uploaded a series of census advertisements from 1966, when they were slightly different, encouraging people to “ask the collector” and “it’s much easier than it looks” as well as some nice jokes about gender roles and being “head of the household”. The census even had its own jaunty jingle “on the 30th of June, boys, census will be here, then we’ll fill our forms in because there’s nothing in it to fear”. Yes, really.

census ads 1966

Senators come to their census. The campaign to boycott tonight’s census has gained some high-profile members, with a handful of senators announcing that they will not be providing their names and addresses to the census due to privacy concerns.

Nick Xenophon was the first to announce yesterday, saying that privacy is a human right. “The ABS with the support of the Australian government is about to trash that human right and the way they’ve done so has been completely undignified and disrespectful to all Australians,” he said.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam will also not be providing his name, telling the ABC’s Lateline: “If the US Department of State, and the CIA, and the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection weren’t able to prevent themselves from being hacked — if these big, well resourced entities aren’t able to protect people’s private information, there’s nothing about the ABS that gives you confidence that couldn’t happen in the future.”

Fellow Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will not be giving the ABS her name or that of her daughter. She said on Sky News, “I think there are legitimate concerns people have about their privacy.”

“I’ve decided I will fill out the form but I won’t put my name or my daughter’s name on the form,” she said.

The Greens’ Janet Rice will also refuse to give her name and address, tweeting “Not an easy decision to withhold my name from the Census, but too many privacy concerns have outweighed the benefits”. ”

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie believes giving names and addresses to the census could be especially dangerous to Defence veterans and police officers. “I have had death threats in the past so I am very concerned about putting my name and address on that census data.” She wants exemptions for people with protected identity status. “I am not keen on putting my name and address on there, I’ll tell you that right now.”

One Senator who hasn’t commented on the census is Derryn Hinch. In his former life as a broadcaster, the new member of Parliament has previously told people not to return their census forms, and held a similar conviction against compulsory voting.

UPDATE: A previous version of this story quoted Janet Rice as saying that she would not be including her daughter’s name on the census, that quote should have been attributed to Sarah Hanson-Young.

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Peter Fray

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