From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Anti-abortion lobby coming soon to Twitter. Anti-abortion activists have sent their followers a step-by-step guide to tweeting to protest against the Australian government continuing to fund abortion overseas. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, commendably, has refused to follow the example of the Trump administration and cut funding for access to, and advice on, safe abortion services as part of foreign aid, which has infuriated the “life begins at ejaculation” crowd. The email, shared with Crikey, goes on:

“We are working with a number of young prolifers who have asked if we can mobilize twitter users.  The following prolife groups/individual sites will be actively tweeting:  (Please retweet) @RightToLifeAust @LifeChoiceSyd @AbortionRethink @CherishLifeQLD @NSWRTL @ACLobby @LyleShelton”

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It also instructs right to lifers, step-by-step, “on how to use Twitter”. For those of us who muted #auspol eight years ago, it’s yet further confirmation that hashtag is a wasteland:


The instructions don’t include how to change your profile picture (maybe Ben can help with that), so be prepared for more egg account spam.

Libs’ drinks, we’re paying. The government spent almost $5000 throwing a party for itself after the 2016 election, documents released to a Senate committee show. In answer to a Senate estimates question to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on functions held by the ministers and assistant ministers last year, it was revealed that a reception for “Coalition members/senators” held on July 17 was charged to the taxpayer. While other functions reported on, including a reception for Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, included a breakdown of guests, the function for MPs had no such guest list available. We got more information about the guests at a dinner for the “intelligence community”. Government MPs were treated to fancy items like “Moroccan lamb rissoles and harissa yoghurt” and “Australian tiger prawns with chili jam”, there were still sausage rolls and meat pies (it’s not a good party without those). When it comes to the $1269.02 of drinks consumed, our pollies got to have George Jensen NV Sparkling (no Cristal, what a shame), some other local wines and two varieties of beer. Non-drinkers could have water, tea and coffee.

Imminent Domain spin-off. Fairfax is heading down the de-merger route by hiving off its Domain online property business. A statement to the ASX Tuesday morning asked for Fairfax shares to be placed in a trading halt “pending an announcement in relation to the Domain Group”. The trading halt came ahead of tomorrow’s financial results for the six months to December 31. The Domain spin-off is expected to be revealed then. Fairfax took write-downs of $900 million or more in May 2016 to de-merge Domain from the rest of the company and turn it into a standalone business. The Financial Review reports that Domain will be a separately listed company, with Fairfax owning between 60% and 70%, much the way that REA Group is 61%-owned by News Corp and accounts for the majority of the Murdoch clan company’s market value.

Holy Stokes! That’s a big drop! As the legal beagles for Seven West Media and former employee Amber Harrison headed for the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney Tuesday morning for their first courtroom meeting, Kerry Stokes’ key company Seven Group Holdings has raised eyebrows in the media sector by slashing the book value of its 41% stake in Seven West Media. According to its interim financial result and accounts issued Tuesday, Seven Group said it had impaired its stake in Seven West by nearly $158 million — to $498.1 million. That was a cut of 24%. That was after the market price of Seven West shares fell 22.9% in the December half year, and are down a further 10.5% so far this year because of weak earnings and revenue figures and the loss of confidence due to the Amber Harrison-Tim Worner brawl. Seven West shares closed at 72 cents yesterday, valuing the company at $1.09 billion. The impairment means that at the moment, Seven Group directors (which include Kerry Stokes and son Ryan) see little chance of Seven West Media shares regaining their former glories above $1 any time soon.

Palmer’s poetry. Former MP and businessman Clive Palmer is taking an interesting approach to the court case investigating the collapse of Queensland Nickel. He’s not cruising around like his nephew Clive Mensink, but he is posting what might be poetry to Facebook. It’s on a food theme, which seems pertinent as they were posted around dinner time.

Clive — R U OK?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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