From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Don’t mess with the Boss. “We stand before you embarrassed Americans,” Bruce Springsteen told a sold-out AAMI Park last night. And he used his first song of the night to “send a letter home”. The E Street Band opened their first Melbourne show with a cover of The Orlons’ 1962 hit Don’t Hang Up. The crowd roared its appreciative laughter, and we’re sure noted Springsteen fan Wayne Swan would have got a kick out of it had he been in attendance. And the Boss wasn’t done. His second song was his 2006 song American Land, which he introduced by saying, “This is an immigrant’s song”, a direct dig at Donald Trump (even the Springsteen tribute band the B Street Band refused to play at Trump’s inauguration). And in a quiet pause before Mary’s Place, Springsteen needed to vent: “Shit is fucked up. I don’t know what more to say, shit is fucked up!” Perhaps we’ll be seeing more of the Boss Down Under if Trump’s America proves too hostile an environment? 

Reds under the bed. In seeking to downplay his $1.75 million donation to the Liberal Party at the time of the last election (didn’t that get overtaken in the news yesterday?), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on 2GB with Ben Fordham went for the ultimate red scare claim, suggesting Shorten was only in politics because he wanted to live in Kirribilli House:

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Turnbull: Look, he just wants to run an old politics of envy campaign. The fact is like any socialist he wants to live in a harbourside mansion but he wants to live in one that is paid for by the taxpayer.

Fordham: Did you just call Bill Shorten a socialist?

Turnbull: Indeed.

Fordham: You’ve got the Bronwyn Bishops about you. She blames everything on socialism these days.

Anyone who has tuned into Sky News recently for an appearance by the former speaker and member for Mackellar would recognise that Bishop is always first to blame socialism on things like Sussan Ley’s downfall or Mike Baird’s resignation. How the mighty have fallen. It wasn’t that long ago that Turnbull mocked Bishop’s predilection for going the path of the red scare. In Crikey former business journalist Paddy Manning’s book on the PM, Born to Rule, he recalled a 1990s debate between Turnbull and Bishop when the pair were on opposite sides of the republic debate where Turnbull was pushing for a republic with a head of state only having ceremonial powers, a la the governor-general, and asked Bishop to name countries where this wasn’t the case:

Bishop: … in Eastern Europe, there are plenty of republics there that people who came here were very pleased to leave.

Turnbull: … that’s right, the time has come for you to kick the communist can … are we all agents of the communists, are we?

Bishop: Of course not, don’t get the red herring out, Malcolm.

Sadly footage doesn’t exist online of this exchange but parts of the debate are available on YouTube.


Radical feminists for the Australian Christian Lobby? Feminists and the Australian Christian Lobby don’t agree on much, but last month the group’s Helen Lovejoy-in-chief, Wendy Francis, made the dubious claim before a Queensland parliamentary committee hearing on removing the so-called gay panic defence from murder law that feminist groups agreed with her that changing the law would hurt women.

“I have spoken to a number of women’s organisations, including radical feminists, and all have all opposed this change,” she said.

She argued that removing the provocation defence of unwanted sexual advances would harm women who kill men who make non-violent sexual advances on them (though she couldn’t specifically point to any cases it had been used, and she did not dispute that common law interpretation of the law had resulted in this defence mostly being used as a defence for straight men to murder gay men). When pushed to name the “number of women’s organisations” she spoke to, Francis named just two:

“There were a number of women’s groups. There is the Brisbane Feminist Collective. In Sydney there is a strong, radical feminist group in RMIT University headed up by Dr Caroline Norma. I asked them what they thought of this and they agreed with my position. I sent them my position. They are concerned because of the impact on women. They are feminist groups. I am never surprised by the lack of submissions to any inquiry because I think the average person has a lot of things to do and they do not necessarily know what inquiries are happening in parliament.”

Ms Tips knows many Christians who say that the ACL doesn’t represent them, but she wonders how the radical feminists feel about the (very anti-abortion) ACL claiming to also represent their views? Crikey spent a week trying to get in contact with Norma via phone and email, but we were unable to reach her. The Brisbane Feminist Collective appears to not be active.

Freedom to vape. As Parliament resumes next week, politicians are already setting out the issues they want to advance. In addition to his work on the 18C committee, Liberal Senator James Paterson is hosting a vaping information day in the second week. An afternoon tea with the “New Nicotine Alliance” promises to teach parliamentarians all about how good electronic cigarettes are for public health in contrast to the “widespread confusion about their role”.

“Several vapers and academics will be available to provide a visual display of different e-cigarettes and to answer any questions you have.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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