From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

White men petition to water down racial hatred laws. What’s the biggest priority for the government? If you ask Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull it’s budget repair —  the “massive moral challenge” facing Parliament. If you ask his backbenchers, though, the first order of business should be to protect their ability to offend and insult whomever they wish. Yesterday, Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi launched a petition signed by 20 senators to amend the Racial Discrimination Act, which is expected to be moved as a private member’s bill on Thursday. Bernardi, who has recently started the conservative version of GetUp and often speaks about the government as if he were not a part of it, released the petition showing that every Coalition Senate backbencher except Jane Hume has signed it, as well as six crossbenchers. Crikey‘s Bernard Keane noticed that there was one thing that united the 20 signatories to the petition:

cory bernardi petition

And for those wondering who the John Hancock of the petition is with the giant signature at the bottom, that’s Senator Dean Smith, the deputy whip in the Senate.

Coalition has form on Chinese donations. Speaking of Bernardi, before he gets too stroppy about a Chinese donor paying Labor Senator Sam Dastyari’s travel bills, whom do we have to thank for foreign donors being able to donate to Australian politicians? Why, the Coalition, which combined with Steve Fielding in March 2009 voted down Labor’s proposal to ban foreign donations. This morning, Bernardi led the charge against Dastyari, condemning him for accepting money from “a company with strong links to a foreign country”. Said the Senator: “I make no bones about it. I have been on the record for years saying we need donation reform. We need donation reform, and we need to start to think about how the influence of hospitality, donations to individuals, are influencing parliamentary behaviour.”

What a shame that Bernardi didn’t take the opportunity to object to foreign donations when he had the chance back in 2009. Here is a list of who voted how on that bill:


If he had crossed the floor back then and backed Labor’s ban, the bill would have passed and the whole question of foreign donations, which plagues both sides of politics, would be history.

Wyatt’s new job. Former assistant minister for innovation Wyatt Roy has landed himself a new gig, as an independent director at H2Ocean, a proposed publicly listed venture capital fund that will be investing in financial services technologies. The fund is being launched by the founders of H2 Ventures, Ben and Toby Heap, and Roy is one of three directors, alongside TV presenter David Koch and Beyond Bank chair Anne O’Donnell. It’s Roy’s first gig since losing the seat of Longman to Labor’s Susan Lamb on July 2, and the H2Ocean prospectus says that he will receive $60,000 a year for the job, as well as holding 10,000 shares. Founder Ben Heap told StartUpSmart that Roy’s youth is a strength: “Diversity is really important with what we’re trying to do with H2Ocean, and that includes age diversity. He is someone who knows the challenges, experiences and ambitions of millennial-style innovators, founders and entrepreneurs.”

The ex-MP told StartUpSmart:

“If you look at the tech disruption or increased competition in the financial technology space we’re seeing an incredible opportunity to give customers and consumers a better experience and better outcome, and Australia is well placed to do this … H2Ocean represents an exciting and new opportunity to play a role in that space. This opens up the alternative investment space for retail investors and that predominantly hasn’t been the case today.”

Clearly Roy will bring one of the most important tools in a pollie’s arsenal — talking bullshit — to the start-up world.

Come to your census. Ms Tips must admit that her census form is still sitting forlornly on a side table, waiting to be filled out, but since the time allotted to “pause” and think about statistics was botched on actual census night, she hasn’t found 10 minutes to actually put pen to paper. A tipster tells us that census collectors and their bosses are getting a bit antsy about those forgotten census forms getting piled under catalogues and bills on side tables across the country, sharing this extract of a message to census collectors from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, sent yesterday:

“A couple of people indicated that they felt that they had until mid-September to complete — it was important to correct these people and let them know that Census is now due and needs to be completed as soon as possible. 23rd September is the last day that the systems are open but responses will be overdue before then.”

Another tipster tells us that despite not requesting a paper form, one has been delivered as a not-too-subtle reminder that time is running out to share your data with the ABS. The census is now limping to a close, while in Canada they are celebrating their “most successful census ever”.

No Boaty McBoatface. The NSW government has launched a competition to give Sydneysiders the chance to name the new fleet of ferries that will soon take to Sydney Harbour. Public votes for naming pieces of infrastructure have so far this year given us the dream of Boaty McBoatface, the British research ship that ended up named after Sir David Attenborough, and the prospect of a swimming pool slide named Harambe (after the gorilla, shot dead by a worker at Cincinnati Zoo when a child fell into his enclosure). There will be six new ferries in Sydney, but unfortunately none will be called Boaty McBoatface or Harambe. Instead voters have been given a shortlist or worthy contenders, with names like Bennelong, Victor Chang and Dorothea Mackellar up for consideration. Now, what’s the fun in naming ferries after very deserving people? None at all.

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

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.