From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Behind enemy lines. When SBS wanted to increase its ability to advertise in prime time (by “averaging out” the number of ads it could air throughout the day, within limits), commercial broadcast lobby Free TV was the proposal’s fiercest critic, lobbying both publicly and privately against the change, which would have split the TV ad pie more evenly between SBS and the commercial broadcasters.

Free TV had a victory when Labor joined with the Greens in defeating the ad-averaging bill. But now an executive who worked closely with former Free TV CEO Julie Flynn in arguing against the proposal — and went on to head the organisation following Flynn’s departure in July — has jumped ship to SBS, and from a rather hostile vessel at that. Clare O’Neil is SBS’ new director of corporate affairs, replacing Tureia Sample, who herself replaced the new member for Wills Peter Khalil around a year ago when he left the broadcaster. We hope there are no hard feelings at her new workplace.

ALP factions eat their own. The Victorian Labor Party will soon announce who will be replacing Senator Stephen Conroy after his shock resignation last month, with the ABC reporting that it looks likely that the party will adhere to its affirmative action policy and appoint a woman to the almost full six-year term in the upper house. A tipster tells us that while the Right is looking the other way, there are also power plays in the industrial Left in Victoria, with Senator Kim Carr’s faction also in a period of unrest:

“Senator Gavin Marshall stands on fast sinking sand. A few weeks ago he hit the news for the first time in his fifteen years in the Senate. It wasn’t for his length of service, Marshall was rolled from his position as Deputy Senate President and in return received two paid committee spots and a three month sojourn to New York to visit the UN next year. Only one of the committee spots came from the left, the rest came from the right. He may be the only one who doesn’t realise it yet, but these are considered a retirement gift from his longtime benefactor Kim Carr, and Carr’s former right wing counterpart Stephen Conroy — himself now retired.”

Kim Carr formed his own faction with Gavin Marshall, Lisa Chesters and Maria Vamvakinou in the wake of the election in reaction to the wider Victorian Left refusing to nominate Carr for the opposition frontbench. He was later saved by party leader Bill Shorten, with MP Andrew Leigh taking a pay cut to allow Carr to retain his higher frontbencher salary. Our tipster says we should expect another resignation before the next election, as part of Kim Carr’s succession planning:

“That is why Marshall is likely to be tapped before the next election and his Socialist Left Senate spot given to Victorian Labor Assistant Secretary and Labor intellectual Kosmos Samaras.

Samaras is well regard across the party, and with a couple of years under Kim’s tutelage in Canberra, he will have no problem taking Carr’s cabinet spot and protecting the legacy Carr has built for himself.”

Relations between Left and Right factions in Victoria are governed by the infamous “Stability Pact”, but that doesn’t do anything for intra-factional rivalries.

I said ‘shithouse’. Americans have often struggled to understand Australian slang, but a US sports reporter really got himself in a muddle when asking Australian basketballer Andrew Bogut his views on the US presidential election. Tommy Magelssen, assistant sports editor at the Dallas Morning News, tweeted that Bogut had labelled both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton “shit-ass”. The full quotes have been corrected to:

“They’re both sh–house,” Bogut said.

So what’s the problem with them?

“They’re both full of [expletive],” Bogut said. “And they don’t really give two [expletive] about the common man.”

Bogut clarified in a tweet, however, saying he had labelled the candidates “shithouse”.


Magelssen has since tweeted a correction and apology.


But before Bogut is lauded as a larrikin hero of Australia, here is what he said when asked about the term “locker room talk”, as it was used by Donald Trump:

“I can’t comment on that. If we’re being honest, I wouldn’t say to that level, but guys talk about pretty girls in the locker room,” Bogut said. “Look, what he said was terrible. But think about the worst thing you’ve said in your life. If there was a microphone there, you’ve probably said some pretty bad things.”

What Chinese house prices mean for us. Friday, October 21, will be a most important date for economic data from China — not trade, inflation or third-quarter GDP, but the latest on house price movements in September.  The size of the increase will underline what has now become an official concern in China about the bubble-like housing rebound and its potential to damage the economy. At least a dozen Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Nanchang, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Wuhan moved during last week’s holidays to tighten the rules and restrictions on property purchases and mortgage down payments.

For example, Xinhua newsagency reported that Nanchang, capital of east China’s Jiangxi Province, adopted a spate of measures to restrict home buying. Local residents who own one or more houses will not be allowed to buy new homes in some parts of the city, people without a local household registration certificate who own one or more houses will not be able to buy either new or pre-owned houses, and first-time home buyers will be required to make a minimum down payment of 30%, compared to 20% previously (that is what the RBNZ is trying to do in New Zealand to slow its boom — lifting the deposits needed to buy homes, and cracking down on investor purchases). The August house price data from the National Statistics Bureau in China showed more than 90% of cities in the monthly survey reported new home price rises, up from 73% in July. Prices in Shanghai rose 37.8% year on year respectively, compared with 33.1% in July. And the Statistics Bureau revealed that cumulative real estate sales in value terms totaled Rmb6.662 trillion (US$997.6 billion) for the first eight months of the year, up 38.7%. In volume terms, floor space sold during the same period grew 25.5%.

And what does this mean for Australia? The wider and more intense the crackdown, the greater the possibility of another downturn in prices in early 2017, and like we saw in 2014 and 2015 another fall in iron ore and coal prices, just as they are looking good again.

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