From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Hinch gets served. When Ms Tips was taught manners, being grateful, and publicly so, for invitations and gifts was an important lesson and one that has stuck. Some would do well to remember the lesson as well. Senator Derryn Hinch tweeted last night that he was disappointed when he watched the women’s final of the Australian Open, as the match didn’t go long enough: “Went Williams’ final Rod Laver Arena last night. Only 20 games: 6-4, 6-4. Few rallies. Sounds sexist: Tonight real tennis.”

The comment drew ire on Twitter (maybe it sounds sexist because it is), but what Hinch didn’t mention was that he was at the match as a guest of Channel Seven — Hinch is a regular contributor to Seven’s Sunrise program — and was papped by the Australian Financial Review at the match on Saturday night. Not a good look to be publicly ungrateful for a gift. 

Scraping the bottom of the expenses barrel. Have we reached the bottom of the barrel when it comes to expenses rorts and MPs? Probably not, but it isn’t for a lack of trying. Over the weekend Fairfax papers carried the headline “Two MPs run up $200,000 tab on private flights to work in Canberra”. The MPs in question are the Nationals’ Darren Chester and Mark Coulton. Chester, who represents the seat of Gippsland with an office in far east Victorian town Lakes Entrance, lives four hours drive from Melbourne airport (without traffic), which is then an hour flight from Canberra. If he were to do the drive, then take a commercial flight, it would take the same amount of time as driving directly to Canberra from Lakes Entrance — a five-hour trip.

Former senator Ricky Muir, who was based in Bairnsdale during his short-lived stint in Parliament, used to drive to sitting weeks with his wife at the wheel — but not everyone is a motoring enthusiast. The calculations in the story show that it would take Coulton six hours of combined road and air travel to get to Canberra by commercial flights if he weren’t using a charter plane to get to sitting weeks. Charter flights aren’t always an unnecessary luxury.

Not that kind of submission. The Real Estate Institute of NSW had to do a quick save over the weekend after the stock image that was used to accompany a submission to a government inquiry on long-term tenancies wasn’t quite what it had in mind. The image has now been deleted, but it was caught by a Reddit user for posterity. The image included a word cloud, in which the word “submission” was included, but also words relating to BDSM. Stock images are dangerous.

Wait your turn. It’s “Australia’s most exclusive club”, invitation only, with no fee or application process according to a glowing write-up on the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge in the business sections of the Fairfax papers last week, but which chairman of a federal government business has begged to be allowed access? It’s not the done thing.

How things change. The media at large continues to go to former Digital Transformation Office CEO Paul Shetler as an expert on all things government IT, despite Crikey’s reporting on the tumultuous time for the agency under Shetler’s helm. On the weekend the AFR wined and dined the former exec and Trump fan at the luxurious Cafe Sydney. Over a $300 meal, he told the journalist — who dutifully repeated it — that his reason for departing office was over a “disagreement” with where the agency was heading under new minister Angus Taylor.

Curiously in October last year, Shetler took credit for this change (when he was moved sideways from CEO to chief digital officer).

He quit under two months after this tweet. Taylor hasn’t refuted any of Shetler’s claims about the disagreement, but some within government have expressed concern about the narrative being put out about the direction of the digital transformation agency.

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

Peter Fray

Inoculate yourself against the spin

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey