From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Kitching comes with pre-made frenemies. It’s the kind of come-from-nowhere victory that could only happen in Melbourne during Spring Racing Season, but instead of horses and winning against the odds, we’re talking about Kimberley Kitching and the workings of Victorian Labor’s factional warlords. Last night the Public Office Selection Committee announced that close friend of Labor leader Bill Shorten, Kimberley Kitching, would be replacing Stephen Conroy as a senator, giving her a plum job for the next six years. Kitching’s name was only thrown around publicly yesterday morning, and it became clear that the former Health Services Union official would win out among the other seven candidates (all female) for the role. There haven’t been many positive comments made about Kitching to the media, with one telling the ABC, “This will not end well”. She is a failed council candidate and has run for Labor preselection before. She is seen as very powerful within Victoria’s Labor Right. Her husband is Andrew Landeryou, a disgraced ex-blogger, whose words may come back to bite his wife in her now powerful position. Everyone comes to Parliament with baggage, but Kitching’s is already looking heavy.

Snarktivity Commission. The Productivity Commission’s hard-charging chairman Peter Harris has shown himself to be perfectly willing to upset the government, making a point of repeatedly complaining about its failure to ask the PC to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s not quite as blunt as his TPP effort, but in his foreword to this year’s PC annual report, he drops this complaint about the government ignoring PC reports it finds inconvenient:

“In recent years, Government responses to our reports have been provided in some cases only after substantial delay. While it takes time for Commission reports to be absorbed, and it is not always the case that matters are given to the Commission with the expectation of immediate action, it would be preferable for public policy development to take place in a relatively timely fashion. It should not become the practice that an inquiry, having been commissioned, is allowed to languish for many years.”

Boom. Still, plus ca change, Peter … Some of us are still waiting to hear the Howard government’s response the PC’s review of broadcasting from 2000.

Malcolm Roberts has arrived. From humble beginnings (like the lowest number of first-preference Senate votes ever to get someone elected), One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts is clawing his way to becoming a darling of the of the conservative far-right, as one of the big names to appear at the H.R. Nicholls Society’s annual conference next week. Liberal Senator Eric Abetz will be giving the keynote speech, while Roberts is listed alongside other “outstanding presenters” shadow industrial relations minister in Victoria Robert Clark and The Australian columnist Judith Sloan. The H.R. Nicholls Society is a conservative industrial relations lobby group, and Liberal Senator James Paterson was once a board member. Abetz has addressed the group before, and it considers senators Bob Day and David Leyonhjelm as its allies in the Senate, but Roberts is a new addition to their usual suspects.


Come you masters of war. Songwriter and musician Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature overnight, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. While there has already been some consternation over whether music can be considered literature, Dylan has a fan in former prime minister John Howard. Yes, you read that correctly, Howard, who stood on the frontier of the culture wars (and not on Dylan’s side), has said that Bob Dylan is one of his favourite musicians. In a 1996 episode of Four Corners profiling the then-opposition leader, Howard was asked about his musical tastes and answered that he was into what people would call “protest songs by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. I like them immensely.”

Interviewer Liz Jackson prodded Howard on the point: “But you weren’t part of that protest generation”, to which Howard answered:

“Well, my views were different from some of them … I mean, I guess, everybody has … but you shouldn’t get so hung up, you shouldn’t be so politically correct, that somebody that may not necessarily share the views of the vocalist, can’t enjoy the music, that’s very narrow minded. That’s the sort of thing that you’d expect from the politically correct brigade.”

The exchange is on the Four Corners website, starting at 14:20 in the episode.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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