From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Betting on expected expenses. This morning, an unrepentant Trade Minister Steve Ciobo told ABC’s AM program that attending the AFL grand final in 2013 and charging taxpayers in flights and car costs for the privilege was part of the job of being a minister, and taxpayers expected him to charge them for it.

“I go along to games here in my own electorate, I use a taxpayer-funded vehicle to get there, and I think people expect that.”

“I would love to see Australia’s Prime Minister … at a key game … between the Wallabies and the All Blacks …”

He said it was work business because the companies inviting him along to the games were showcasing their businesses to the ministers invited.

That raises an interesting prospect for other claims made by other parliamentarians, if we are going to look at the sorts of businesses showing off their services to ministers. For instance, Kevin Andrews, when he was defence minister in 2014, went to the Emirates Stakes Day and Cox Plate, with gambling giant William Hill picking up the tab. But he did slog taxpayers with $334.05 and $324.88 in Comcar costs on those days respectively.

If we are going to start examining the businesses wining and dining our MPs at sporting and other cultural events and look into the value to ministers, Ciobo might have opened up a much larger can of worms than he realises.

Rogers’ rabbiting. Like politician’s expenses, stories about the online postings of One Nation candidates are becoming a daily occurrence. Today it is Peter Rogers, who will run for the Queensland seat of Mulgrave in the state election this year. BuzzFeed reported on his blog posts, in which he says the photo of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi, lying dead on a Turkish beach, was fake, as was the Port Arthur massacre. Rogers’ website is a revealing insight into his ways of thinking, with posts on conspiracy theories, global warming and the United Nations, but it was taken down just before 10.30 this morning.

Rogers also gave visitors to his website the chance to take part in many polls on issues he cares about, including Queensland’s bikie laws, the United Nations and halal certification. The polls gave a few options chosen by Rogers (we presume) but also the opportunity to add your own answers, which are then available to others to view. One poll asks “should treason/sedition laws be brought back in and those found guilty executed?” and the options included “yes if there is no doubt they committed the crime” “laws are too tough as it is” and “Absolutely, there has to be severe punishment for betraying a nation. Whatever the majority decide I would support. I do not believe most citizens of Australia want to be involved with the UN or the EU at this time in history.” It’s unclear if that last one was provided by Rogers or added by a reader.

peter-rogers-poll-1

The option to add answers to the polls has created a few issues though, with the two polls attached to the article about Alan Kurdi. One asks “do you believe the drowned boy story?” and the possible answers include “Peter Rogers is a goose,” “peter Rogers is a mad cunt” and “Peter Rogers has the face of a smashed meat pie”. Another poll asked “Do you think Abbott was an innocent victim of the Turnbull/Abbott coup?”, and the answers given included the (obviously false) and particularly vitriolic “Peter Rogers gave aids to monkeys first”.

peter-rogers-poll-2

peter-rogers-poll-3

Sometimes user engagement isn’t for the best.

Reds under the bed, on the screen. Well that’s awkward. American political TV channel C-SPAN (which shows “gavel-to-gavel” coverage of the US Congress) says it is investigating after its live coverage of US House of Representatives suddenly switched to a live feed of Russia Today. Yes, that’s the Kremlin-backed, English news channel of Russia, which was showing on C-SPAN for about 10 minutes before the feed was switched back, Politico reports. Deadspin editor Tim Burke recorded a video of the change, and uploaded it to Twitter:

timothy-burke-tweet

C-SPAN explained in a statement “As RT is one of the networks we regularly monitor, we are operating under the assumption that it was an internal routing issue”.

Not dead yet. Soon-to-be/not-quite former senator Rod Culleton says he is still a senator because “I’ve still got my senator’s badge on and I’m going to my senator’s office”, and as Ms Tips’ spy in Parliament House shows, the office name plate does still bear his name. For now …

rod-culleton-office

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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