From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Scabbing and snorting? Some fallout from our story from Friday about BuzzFeed‘s Mark Di Stefano’s claim that he had been offered cocaine at the Walkleys by someone from a union after getting a recruitment pitch. We soon heard that the story has been doing the rounds for some time. Crikey hears Di Stefano’s conduct that night was infamous, mostly because, the rumour goes, after accepting the cocaine, he didn’t join the union. This is an unsubstantiated rumour, and Di Stefano would neither confirm nor deny it this morning.

Most took the whole thing as a massive joke, and we saw plenty of people profess a sudden desire to join the union on Friday afternoon. For its part, though, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance promptly put out a statement shortly after we published calling the account “disturbing and distressing”. The journalists’ union wasn’t mentioned in our story (and Di Stefano’s book doesn’t say which union the official belonged to). MEAA’s statement reads:

“MEAA seeks to uphold high ethical standards in every aspect of our work, and expects that of all employees and officers at all times. Our rules provide for strict sanctions, including expulsion, for anyone found guilty of serious misconduct. If information comes to light which identifies the individual(s) involved, MEAA will take appropriate steps under our rules to deal with them.”

It’s not the only cocaine anecdote in Di Stefano’s book. An extract from the same book about the Liberal election party published over the weekend contains another tale of the white stuff:

“One group had a small bag of coke stored in the back of their room’s TV. It was then racked up using, appropriately, a Medicare card to split the white powder and then hoovered down by young women, clutching at their nostrils.”

A split in the Nile. The party started by, and led by, Fred Nile looks like it is breaking apart, again. Late on Friday, the federal director and NSW state director Greg Bondar announced to the media he was resigning from the party due to a lack of leadership and a failure “to meet the ethos and values of a truly Christian democratic party”.

Bondar says he is looking to start a coalition of Christian parties in time for the 2019 state and federal elections, claiming there is a “conservative void” needed to counter the “loud minority at the expense of the ‘silent majority’”. It’s the second big split in the Christian Democratic Party, after the Victorian and WA branches split in 2011 to form the Australian Christians.

At the last election, Nile was reportedly blocked from getting his (second) wife, Silvana Nero-Nile, at the top of the New South Wales Senate ticket. She instead ran on the top of the ticket for the CDP in Tasmania (presumably she wouldn’t live away from her husband, the New South Wales parliamentarian).

NPWS cuts and redundancies. Last year the NSW government announced that the state’s environmental agencies would face “efficiency cuts” of $20 million this year, with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to bear the brunt of much of the funding cuts, and a tipster tells us that the effects are being felt within the agency. According to our tipster, there have been many redundancies at the NPWS, with many staff, including park rangers, required to reapply for their jobs in a “spill and fill”. We’ve asked the Department of Environment just how many jobs are set to go, and what that will mean for the national parks (which are actually looked after by states), but we are yet to hear back.

Druery working for Hinch. There are plenty of new and returning faces in the halls of Parliament this week, and one of them is back from the Senate’s prototype of a feral crossbench (now we have the fully formed version). Crikey hears that “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery is working for independent Senator Derryn Hinch as he makes his way in the new Parliament. It’s not the first time Druery has worked for an independent senator; he was a senior adviser to Motoring Enthusiast senator Ricky Muir but was sacked less than a month into the gig.

Liberal refugees? While the fallout from the Northern Territory election will be analysed and mulled over by members of the CLP (not Adam Giles, though, he’s got his career to start), Ms Tips had a bit of a laugh at this typo on the ABC’s election website. Candidate for the 1 Territory Party Edward D Solo ran in the seat of Karama, where his short bio labels him and his family “refugees from the brutal civil war in Liberal”.

Edward D Solo

Solo and his family actually fled Liberia in 1999 and settled in Darwin in 2001. The 1 Territory Party was founded last year by Braedon Earley, a former president of the Country Liberal Party, and former CLP president Sue Fraser-Adams is also a member. So while some members of 1 Territory could be described as refugees from the Liberals, Solo’s status is quite different.

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