From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Minerals Council fudges numbers. One of Canberra’s most effective rent-seekers, the Minerals Council, yesterday proudly unveiled its new advertising campaign for coal, titled Coal: Making the future possible, which peddles the myth of “the role that high efficiency, low emission (HELE) coal-fired generation plants provide in reducing emissions”. Something that caught our eye, however, was the claim in the accompanying press release that coal was “a major employer in NSW, Queensland and Victoria”.

Hmmm. We checked the ABS’ employment data, which shows a total of 45,000 Australians employed in coal mining across Australia, or 0.4 of 1% of the workforce. Still, what about in those states? The ABS doesn’t break down industry subdivision by state, but let’s just take the entire mining industry in each state: 41,000 in NSW out of a workforce of 3.8 million, or just over 1%. In Victoria, 11,000 out of 3.8 million, or 0.2 of 1%; in Queensland, 60,000 out of 2.4 million or 2.5%. Even in Queensland, mining is hardly a “major” employer, let alone coal mining. So we asked the Minerals Council what they meant by “major”. They replied that coal mining “gross value-added per worker was $405,204 higher than every industry in Australia except the total mining industry” and that “given that coal mining generally operates in rural and regional areas, the community contribution and value of every coal mining job is magnified even more.” So there you have it. Guess that nuance didn’t make it into the press release.

Open ABC still on the way. Late last year the ABC and SBS announced they would hold public board meetings as part of a government deal with Senator David Leyonhjelm to get his vote on the Australian Building and Construction Commission, with the ABC committing to three public meetings in 2017. Leyonhjelm said at the time it would help the national broadcaster to become “more representative”. The ABC holds six board meetings a year and said that three of those would have community forums attached to them, two of which would be held in regional areas. Ms Tips understands that the ABC board is due to meet soon, so we got in touch to ask if the first community forum was also scheduled to be soon. We don’t have a date to report but were told by an ABC spokesman:

“The ABC interacts with and consults with the wider community regularly in a number of different forums. The ABC Board welcomes the opportunity to expand the Corporation’s engagement and we’re in the process of putting a schedule of at least three community forums, two of which will be held in regional areas.”

The ABC board is looking a bit thin at the moment, with two positions sitting vacant since June last year. The government is also in the middle of recruiting a new chair of the board, with James Spigelman’s term to end in March. Names like David Gonski and David Thodey have been thrown around, as has Danny Gilbert managing partner of law firm Gilbert + Tobin.

Engie CEO on the way out? Energy company Engie hasn’t been having a good run in recent months. The announcement of the closure of the Hazelwood power station, rising costs rising to do so, the revelation that the second unit at the Pelican Point gas-fired power station hasn’t been turned on in almost two years, and the market’s lack of enthusiasm for the $1 billion asking price for Loy Yang B power plant in Victoria haven’t made for good headlines. Now we hear that staff have been told the CEO of the company’s Australian branch, Alex Keisser, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities, finishing up in the middle of the year. Our tipster says after more than 20 years with the company in different parts of the world, he’s unlikely to go to the head office in France. Energy company Engie hasn’t been having a good run in recent months. The announcement of the closure of the Hazelwood power station, rising costs rising to do so, the revelation that the second unit at the Pelican Point gas-fired power station hasn’t been turned on in almost two years, and the market’s lack of enthusiasm for the $1 billion asking price for Loy Yang B power plant in Victoria haven’t made for good headlines. Now we hear that staff have been told the CEO of the company’s Australian branch, Alex Keisser, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities, finishing up in the middle of the year. Our tipster says after more than 20 years with the company in different parts of the world, he’s unlikely to go to the head office in France. Staff were told of his departure in mid-January, and his next move is yet to be confirmed.

Talking to the babies. Northern Territory Parliament will introduce laws to decriminalise medical abortions next week, and one upper house independent member is unhappy about it. He has issued a press release seemingly addressed to foetuses. Gerry Wood’s presser, which includes a header with 1990s era clip art of chickens hatching out of eggs, spends many lines talking to the unborn:

“Gerry Wood, Independent Member for Nelson, says today is not a good day if you were just starting out on your life journey but not yet born.

Why, because the Labor Government has introduced a Bill without consulting you which will make your chances of reaching your full potential as a fully grown human being at least 1:4. That is approximately the ratio of abortions to live births in the Territory.

Gerry says you don’t get a mention in the Bill unless that’s what the Government is referring to when it says ‘termination of pregnancy’ – I think they are referring to your termination! Not very nice of them.

But Gerry says you will not be forgotten and we will fight for your rights as a member of our human race, the Northern Territory and Australia to have the right to live and grow up and perhaps be our next leader, or doctor, or teacher, or scientist, or mother and father, or footballer, etc, etc,”

The footer of the press release is in Latin and reads “Cessi foro gallinarum sed surgo” which an amateur translator tells us means something along the lines of ” Yield to the marketplace of chickens, but rise up”. If you know a better translation, drop us a line.

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