From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Rupert Murdoch’s antagonistic history with Scientology. ABC Europe correspondent Steve Cannane’s book on Scientology, Fair Game, is out in a few days — Ms Tips found it chilling and very sad, but brilliantly reported. Rupert Murdoch makes several appearances. In 2012, Murdoch made his views on Scientology known:


But Cannane covers many details about the mogul’s long relationship with the group. It was the Truth newspaper (est. 1890, later bought by Murdoch) that first began critical coverage of Scientology, paving the way for the organisation to be banned in three Australian states (the bans were overridden by attorney-general Lionel Murphy under the Whitlam government). From that point on, Murdoch became a person of interest to Scientology’s upper hierarchy, an interest that culminated in Murdoch being spied on by the organisation through a private detective.

In the late 1960s, the Guardian Office (which protects Scientology from attack) hired Rex Beaver, a private investigator, to spy on “persons of interest”, including Rupert Murdoch. Beaver spoke to Cannane for the book and told him he figured he could boost his income by acting as a double agent for the people Scientology asked him to spy on, which included a Liberal MP, the editor of The Daily Mirror, and Murdoch himself.

“Rupert was rapt,” Beaver told Cannane. “He even volunteered to have a photograph taken of himself emerging from a motel with his secretary!”

Beaver spent several months quietly gathering intelligence before going public in the Sunday Mirror. That led to another round of condemnation of Scientology in the Australian Parliament — needless to say the intelligence operation, intended to intimidate Scientology’s critics, spectacularly backfired.

Later in the book, Cannane reports on a plot to use James Packer, a one-time Scientologist, to recruit his friend Lachlan Murdoch, which would have been seen as quite a coup for the organisation. The plan doesn’t appear to have had much success — Packer himself drifted away from the group after a few years.

Malcolm Roberts, goldbug. As we get to know our new senators, we also get an insight into their lives from their declarations of pecuniary interests. While most declarations involve a residential property, a mortgage, and maybe some free footy tickets, new Labor Senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy quietly became the first politician to register her ownership of traditional lands:


New Senator Derryn Hinch declared a gift of the non-alcoholic wine, which is now stocked in Parliament House:


One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts declared that he owns more than $7500 in gold and silver bullion, but he has been less than forthcoming about why he owns the precious metals. Roberts’ spokesperson told journos that he wouldn’t tell them why he loved gold so much, because he wasn’t a financial adviser:

“As per the Financial Services Reform Act 2001, Senator Roberts may not give financial advice ­unless licensed. As such he is not at liberty to discuss why he holds one asset class over another, only that he has met his obligations in making such declarations.”


Roberts also owns a boat and a trailer, which seems like a worthy investment. Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi declared that he traveled to the Olympics with Gina Rinehart in a charter aircraft:


Some rumours never Indi. While Cathy McGowan has been elected for a second term as the independent member for the seat of Indi, there are some for whom the whiff of scandal around the 2013 election and the enrolment of “Indi expats” will never die down. Accusations that 27 supporters of McGowan, including her niece Maggie McGowan and backer Sophie Fuschen, had committed electoral fraud by enrolling in the electorate when they lived elsewhere have been dropped by the AFP, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else has let it go. Liberal Senator Dean Smith asked the AFP at Senate estimates in May about the use of Facebook by authorities, but the agency said social media wasn’t that important:

“Several of the persons of interest referred by the AEC did have social media profiles, some which included details of their geographic location and employment status. However, the AFP did not rely on social media postings to confirm the residential addresses or employment status of the 27 suspects.”

Reports at the time suggested that Facebook posts had been deleted after the case came to the attention of the media, but the AFP said that made no difference to the investigation.

“AFP investigators were aware of media articles reporting that some social media records may have been deleted after this matter became public. Social media aided, but was only one aspect of, the investigation. The deletion of the material did not adversely impact the investigation.”

Jones gives Davidson both barrels. Broadcaster Alan Jones turned his vitriol in a new direction this morning, having a go at The Australian‘s media editor, Darren Davidson, for his reporting on the latest round of radio ratings. It’s something to behold as Jones intones “whoever this bloke Darren Davidson is, I have no idea, he writes about Smooth FM claiming its third consecutive survey win”. He goes on to say “now I’ve got news for you Darren Davidson, whoever the hell you are, media editor, and hopefully Paul Whittaker will move you off,” defending his own station, 2GB, from the scurrilous claim that Smooth FM, owned by Nova, had won the Sydney radio ratings survey. Jones went on to describe Davidson as someone who is “cavalier with the truth, who doesn’t seem to understand that they are radio ratings, commercial radio ratings, they’re not FM ratings, they’re not AM ratings”.

Of course, Jones had to let his listeners know that 2GB had won the survey period, which we’re sure was their main concern as they were stuck in Sydney traffic. The full audio is here.

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