From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Inquiry all about 18C. The government has announced the terms of reference for its “Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Speech”, which was called in response to the growing consternation about section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. According to a press release, the inquiry is to report on two questions:

  • “Whether the operation of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (including ss 18C and 18D) impose unreasonable restrictions on freedom of speech”; and
  • “Whether the complaints-handling procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission should be reformed.”

While the terms of reference do pay lip service to other areas in which Australians’ free speech is impinged, the email address, “”, gives the game away.

The founding of Australia. Australian High Commissioner to the UK Alexander Downer has been spotted in an edition of the Bath Chronicle. Downer was in town to launch a plaque dedicated to Admiral Arthur Phillip, first governor of NSW. In wording that could cause issues back in Australia, the article, and Downer himself, refer to Phillip as “the founder of modern Australia”. From the Chronicle:

“After the unveiling Mr Downer said: ‘I am delighted to honour a great Englishman, and the founder of modern Australia.'”

“The plaque, funded by the Australian High Commissioner, ordered by the Britain-Australia Society West Country Branch, and made by Newton Forge Limited of Sturminster Newton, describes him as ‘Founder of Modern Australia’.

Admiral Phillip, one of modern Australia’s most significant historical figures, was buried in St Nicholas Church in Bathampton.”


Donald who? The election of Donald Trump to the US presidency has rightly been a major news story across the world, including here in Australia. But a tipster tells us that it wasn’t so in East Timor:

“While it appears that every news service is covering (over-covering) Trump’s win — it was interesting to see in two of Timor-Leste’s newspapers made but a ripple — Page 9 of a 12-page news The Independent and the back page (Page 24) in Timor Post. Classic.”

The Oz and the iceberg. The Australian‘s new house ad raised a few eyebrows in the Crikey bunker. In today’s paper is a quarter-page ad with a picture of mostly submerged iceberg, with the slogan “members get more”. The text spruiks the many benefits of being a member of the Oz. It looks very similar to the magery used by anti-marriage equality group Marriage Alliance. Their advertisement, which was launched in August last year, centred around the idea that allowing marriage equality was just the tip of the iceberg — once we allowed marriage equality Australia would end up with all sorts of horrors, like changing sex education in schools. In this metaphor, what is below the surface is something to beware of, not a selling point (just ask passengers on the Titanic).


ScoMo in hospital. Treasurer Scott Morrison has posted an intriguing message on social media with two nurses at Canberra hospital. The post thanks the staff in the hospital’s acute surgery ward and the emergency department, calling the stay an “unscheduled visit”. Morrison said that after a visit from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull he is back on the mend.


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