From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Great white paper hope. Julie Bishop delighted the foreign policy glitterati in August when she revealed, via a drop to the SMH’s gun gallery journo James Massola, that there would be a foreign policy white paper  — the first in 13 years. Michael Fullilove, the State Department’s loyal local spruiker and the man who brought convicted criminal leaker David Petraeus to Australia, trilled his delight.

Only one problem — is there actually going to be a white paper? Bishop, it appears, leaked too soon: she never formally announced there would be a white paper, despite retweeting Fullilove’s praise of her. And today when asked about a white paper, the new head of Foreign Affairs Frances Adamson refused to say if there would be one — instead, DFAT was working on a “foreign policy strategy”, not a “white paper” — there’s a significant difference, given white papers have an important policy role in any government of formally laying out a long-term policy. Under persistent questioning from Penny Wong, Adamson would only say that eventually cabinet would decide whether there’d be a white paper or not — for now, all we’re going to get is a strategy. Bishop might want to apologise to Massola.

But how much is that per capita? The Australian Bureau of Statistics faced the music at estimates yesterday, admitting that the bungle with the census website cost the agency $30 million, eating into the $100 million saving that had been promised by moving the survey online. Head Statistician David Kalisch told the committee that the ABS had made “poor judgments” in preparing the census. Kalisch also answered questions on the decision to keep names and addresses collected for four years instead of 18 months, and admitted that the ABS could have done better in the consultation process associated with that decision. “In hindsight … the process that we put in place was not as robust and strong as it should have been.”

The questioning took about 40 minutes, but is just a preview of what we can expect at a Senate inquiry into the census debacle next week.

Birthday suit wishes for PM. It’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s 62nd birthday on Monday, and to mark the occasion, animal rights group PETA is giving him a vegan leather jacket. Proclaiming it as Turnbull’s “birthday suit” (for some reason they didn’t mention that actual birthday suits are vegan anyway), the activists are attempting to use the date to draw attention to the evils of wearing leather. It is a well-timed gift, as it’s been a long time since Turnbull was spotted in his leather jacket. Power and responsibility mean it’s all suits now, maybe a polo shirt if he’s out rowing. PETA’s associate director of campaigns Ashley Fruno obviously understands that Turnbull’s fashion choices reflect the stressful job he does, saying “we hope this gift inspires Prime Minister Turnbull to take that dead weight off his shoulders and wear his heart on his sleeve once more”.



A dollar a Day. In the days since Bob Day announced he would resign from the Senate in order to deal with his business that had plunged into liquidation, an ally of the senator has started a crowdfunding page attempting to assist the former Family First representative. Started by head of the Australian Taxpayers Alliance Tim Andrews, the funding page aims to raise $100,000 to pay back subcontractors owed by Day’s building companies. Somehow we think that would barely touch the sides of the bucket. The page reads:

“Yesterday afternoon learned the devastating news that Bob Day is facing potential bankrupcy [sic] due to circumstances outside of his control.

Bob Day has been more than a campaigner for sound public policy. He is someone who has sacrified [sic] himself in dedicating his life to serving the Australian people and promoting good public policy.

I have been in politics for over 15 years and I can say, without question, that Bob is the kindest, most generous, most warm hearted person I have ever met. Always willing to give a hand, always willing to help someone out. Always willing to dedicate himself to the cause.”

At the time of writing, donations had risen to $16,185. As the page is set up through GoFundMe, all donations will be debited from donors, even if the $100,000 target isn’t met.

ACA offers ABC journalistic advice (yes, really). Tracy Grimshaw has got in on the ABC bashing over the Four Corners report on the refugee children detained on Nauru. In a weirdly gloating lecture, the Current Affair host had her say last night. Grimshaw berated the ABC for using old footage instead of ACA‘s own footage. “We don’t know why Four Corners didn’t use and acknowledge our up-to-date material in their report. We’ve certainly followed up excellent stories that they have covered in the past with due accreditation and will no doubt do so in the future.”

At the end of the report, Grimshaw awkwardly added “for the record we are not suggesting and have never suggested Nauru is a great place for children. It’s clearly not, and resolving their future has to be a priority for the Australian government.”


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Peter Fray
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