From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Free food people. In what is an annual event, parliamentarians, staffers, and journalists gathered in the Members Garden on Monday night for a free feed and drink courtesy of Woolworths.

It is fairly common for parliamentarians to get a free feed on most nights during sitting weeks, depending on the event taking place in Parliament, but the Woolworths annual event has a big reputation for being one of the best.

Rows and rows of Greek salads, prawn salads, large steaks, giant sausages, potato, bread rolls and a variety of cheeses and fruits for dessert were on offer, and while it was not the usual “Trough” dining experience in Parliament, the lengthy queues with patrons lining up on either side of the table to dig in had a distinctly trough-like appearance. Ms Tips’ spy spotted several Coalition and Labor MPs wining and dining on one of the duopoly’s feasts, including Kevin Andrews, Luke Hartsuyker, Trent Zimmerman, Sam Dastyari, Wayne Swan, and Murray Watt.

It’s probably not the kind of event that strong critic of the supermarket duopoly, Nick Xenophon would attend, Ms Tips expects, and he wasn’t spotted at the event. Was it Halal? We’re not sure, and Senator Pauline Hanson was not there, after a busy day for her party in the Senate.

There was a small presentation where Woolworths talked up its indigenous employment program and its success in hiring more indigenous Australians into the company, but sadly most patrons at the event were too engrossed in their own conversations when a young indigenous woman who was brought into the program spoke about her experience. Undeterred, however, she spoke proudly about her training as part of the program and getting to visit Parliament for the event.

No jab, no vote. A new anti-vaccination party has been registered by the Australian Electoral Commission, with the Involuntary Medication Objectors Party joining the Health Australia Party with policies against vaccination programs and water fluoridation. The IMOP has been started by Michael O’Neill, and its constitution states that it is against compulsory vaccination. Details about the party’s membership are scant, but it seems as if it was founded over a year ago, with formal registration with the AEC just coming through. According to the party’s website, it plans to run in the Senate. The party’s registered address is West Kempsey, which is north-west of Port Macquarie.

“The Involuntary Medication Objectors Party will be standing at least one candidate in the next Federal Senate election. The party needs your support to turn back this great tide of evil that strikes right at the heart of our hard won freedoms that make us uniquely Australian.”

Malcolm who? As Malcolm Roberts tried to tell reporters that climate change wasn’t real and the CSIRO was cooking the numbers, we wonder exactly what was going on at the home of Australia’s best scientists. Were they worried? Did they laugh at the two attempts from Roberts’ staffers as they tried to attach his report to an email? The CSIRO’s response gives a little clue, in just two sentences that do not mention Roberts or his report at all:

“CSIRO stands behind its researchers and the integrity of the research they produce. We continue to commit to full and transparent participation in the scientific peer review process which results in evidence-based science of the highest quality.”

It’s as if they have taken a leaf out of Mad Men‘s Don Draper’s book of insults. After Ginsberg says “I feel bad for you,” Draper responds: “I don’t think about you at all.”

Another stellar conspiracy theory from One Nation’s Most Wacky. Did the Rothschilds kill John F. Kennedy? That’s what One Nation Senator and resident conspiracy theorist Malcolm Roberts appears to be suggest. Yesterday, at Crikey’s invitation, Roberts was happy to explain the role of the Rothschilds, the famous Jewish banking family, in the global climate change conspiracy — although he doesn’t like using the word “conspiracy”, despite hosting a media event in which an American climate denialist and Sandy Hook truther outlined a plot by environmentalists to use CO2 to invent a global threat. In his 2013 screed against the CSIRO, one of Roberts’ central obsessions is with “privately owned central banks” controlled by international financiers like the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers, which, while sadly fictional, is a core element of the “Jewish financier” myth. And these “privately owned central banks will apparently stop at nothing to protect themselves”. So sayeth Roberts, quoting US conspiracy theorist and alternative medicine advocate Ellen Brown:

“Ellen Brown details the history of American banking. She and others name influential American politicians who opposed America’s first, second or third [current] central bank. Many were negated through smear campaigns or died in suspicious circumstances. American presidents have been assassinated in conjunction with their attempts to stop or dismantle central banking.”

Roberts then goes on to quote JFK:

“’The high office of President has been used to foment a plot to destroy the American’s freedom, and before I leave office I must inform the citizen of his plight.’ Quoting President John F. Kennedy, speaking at Columbia University, 10 days before his assassination.”

Alas, Kennedy never said any such thing. He wasn’t even at Columbia University on November 12 — public records show he was at the White House. Nor was he at Columbia any time in 1963. Perhaps that’s why, if you google that quote, the date appears to move around by several years. Who knows, maybe the Rothschilds killed Kennedy by mistake. Maybe Roberts can hold a media conference with some wingnuts to clarify.

Day time. As part of the motion to refer his eligibility to be elected to the Senate, the government yesterday tabled more than a dozen documents associated with the lease of former senator Bob Day’s electorate office. The documents show that the Fullerton investment firm that purchased the property from Day was set up in late 2013, seemingly just for the purpose of purchasing the Kent Town office from Day only to lease it back to the federal government for Day to use. The reason why the matter is being referred to the High Court is that the sale was done using vendor financing, meaning Day loaned the cost of the purchase to be paid back over time.

One of the documents tabled reveals that Day told the government that the loan — which he says is a separate agreement from any lease the owner has with the government — would not be paid back until the government began paying rent on the property.

bobdaylease

Although he still has the loan with the owner of the building, and the owner was then paying back the loan with money from the rent paid by the government for Day to use as his electorate office, Day told the government in an email he thought it was not a pecuniary interest because a researcher in the parliamentary library provided him with information that suggested it was not.

bobdayhighcourt

“In my case, I have no contract or agreement with the Crown. I have an agreement with someone else who has an agreement with the Crown.”

From the government’s point of view, the documents show Special Minister of State Scott Ryan looking the best from the whole mess, thoroughly investigating the matter when it was drawn to his attention after he was appointed the portfolio.

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Peter Fray

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