From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Keenan pays up after Labor shenanigans. Justice Minister Michael Keenan has paid up for his quick round trip to Melbourne from Canberra in early September after the government lost a vote in the House of Representatives.

On September 1, the government lost several votes in the House of Representatives for the first time in over 50 years because several government ministers had left early on a Thursday night. (Labor used the government’s lack of numbers to attempt to get up a royal commission on the banks.)

One of those ministers was Keenan, who had claimed he had to go to Melbourne for a “significant operation with the AFP”, but got straight back on a flight from Melbourne to Canberra once it was clear Labor was determined to cause mischief. Alas, it was too late and Parliament had adjourned for the night once he made it back.

Keenan took responsibility for his actions, though, and despite claiming he needed to leave early for AFP business, the Department of Finance confirmed this week that Keenan had paid for both flights to and from Canberra in business class.

“The minister has repaid the costs of these flights.”

He did, however, use a Comcar to get from Parliament House to Canberra airport, but did not use a Comcar when he returned to the adjourned Parliament.

Mundine for Sky. We’ll say this about Sky News, now entirely owned by News Corp: it certainly comes up with unexpected programming ideas. We have it on good authority the latest recruit is Warren Mundine, who will have his own show in 2017. We asked Sky about it, but they weren’t saying much: “SKY NEWS is looking at a number of new programming initiatives for 2017 which we look forward to announcing soon.” Oh well, you heard it here first …

Labor of love. In correspondence from Melbourne’s inner north, some names to keep an eye on:

“An emerging Labor power couple have married recently. Annalivia Carli Hannan, daughter of former state MP Carlo Carli, newly-elected Moreland City Councillor and former Victorian Young Labor President via Young Labor Left, has married Michael de Bruyn, son of SDA union heavyweight Joe de Bruyn at the end of November. An interesting union considering they come from opposite sides of the Labor ‘broad church’.”

It definitely gives a new meaning to “stability pact”.

Turn around … Well, it took the Oz only a day to step back from a claim that members of Jewish communities in Melbourne and Sydney were calling for action against 18C. Like so much of the Oz‘s 18C campaign (135,000 words at last count!), that yarn seems more dubious the closer at it you looked. Carried in Tuesday’s paper, it heralded a whole two Jews in support, namely David Adler from Sydney and Avi Yemini from Melbourne, who wrote a submission to the government’s freedom of speech inquiry. Yemini’s name might be familiar to Crikey readers — last week we told you how the Melbourne gym owner, known for recruiting soldiers for the Israeli Defence Force, had his meeting with Pauline Hanson cancelled after rival Jewish groups planned a protest. One Nation said “security concerns” had forced them to cancel. Clearly, Yemini doesn’t speak for all Melbourne’s Jews. Not that he should be expected to, but the Oz wouldn’t have had to look too far to find people opposed to his views. And the other Jewish opponent of 18C? David Adler is also rather interesting. The “Sydney-based health professional” has a Facebook page full of photos with Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison.

Of course, if Jewish groups are now opposed to 18C, this is extraordinary news, as Jewish groups were a key force in opposing changes to 18C last time the government tried.

Less than 24 hours later, the Australian was carrying the opposite headline, saying “high-profile Jewish groups had distanced themselves from comments made by two members of the Jewish community slamming sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act”. Which is thoroughly unsurprising. But maybe the Oz could have called the B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation Commission and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council sooner?

I spy with someone else’s eye. Spotted at Canberra’s swanky Ottoman Restaurant last night: Liberal federal director Tony Nutt and battle-worn Senator Arthur Sinodinos. Spies report the Comcar was running out the front all night.

Mounting a defence. Public servants in some departments are taking part in regular industrial action over pay and conditions negotiations, but a tipster tells us the worker bees in the Defence Department are hamstrung in what they can do:

“Department of Defense APS staff have voted 58.4% in favour of rejecting the proposed Enterprise Agreement, with 84% of staff having voted. This is the third rejection and bucks the trend of previous votes towards yes, the last two ‘no’ votes having gotten 60% and 55% of the majority. Unlike Customs and Immigration, Defense APS can’t rally any industrial action that would impact the general public and hence raise awareness, APS can refuse to fill in travel allowances but managers just assign to someone else to do. Nobody would consider action that could endanger operator lives for a pay rise which encourages Defence APS to remain silent.”

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Peter Fray

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