From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Going to the dogs. Who says the Andrews government in Victoria is out of touch? It know what’s missing from the lives of Victorian women — greyhound racing! Continuing an Andrews government tradition of subsidising the torture and killing of dogs, Victorian taxpayers forked out several thousand dollars for Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club to run a “Girl’s Night Out” last Friday. According to a media release for this exciting event, there was “a range of activities on offer including a pamper parlour featuring makeup touch ups, hairstyling, mini manicures and express massages”‘.

“The 2017 Girls Night Out race meeting provides the club with a great opportunity to promote greyhound racing in Cranbourne and encourages more women to head to the track,” local MP Jude Perera enthused. No expense was spared by the club, with a “three-course dining packages for $70” and a “complimentary racebook”. If that wasn’t enough to get the “girls” frocking up for a trip to Cranbourne, “master-mind comedy hypnotist Damien Mind” was there. Perhaps Mr Mind (call us sceptical but we’re not sure that’s his real name) was able to hypnotise the “girls” into forgetting this is an industry that kills, by its own admission, 3000 dogs a year. And Victorians help pay for it.

Contemptible? Not here. State Liberal MP-in-waiting James Newbury (he’s been preselected to replace outgoing MP Louise Asher in a blue-ribbon seat) has taken a leaf from his federal colleagues, using the Brighton terror incident, in which Yacqub Khayre killed Kai Hao, as a way to say the legal system is “too soft”.

“It may sound simplistic, but the plain truth is our legal system is too soft. It offers violent criminals second and third chances, when some criminals use that chance to commit even more violent and devastating crimes.”

More centralisation at News. What’s happening at News Corp? We hear that the bloodletting and job losses are not done. In the past month up to 70 photographers were shown the door, with outsourcing adopted in order to cut costs. Many of the snappers leaving News will end up at Australian Associated Press — from which the papers will now buy their photographs. A tipster tells us the pain isn’t over, with the Sunday papers about to be targeted in a bid to centralise more functions in Sydney.

Our new saviour, old king coal. “Coal plants ‘cheaper’ than renewables bill” screams the front page of The Australian today, with a “new technical study” apparently showing that the government should be building a new low-emissions coal-fired power station.

Sounds legit, right? The third paragraph tells us the analysis was compiled by “energy sector specialists GHD and Solstice Development Services”. And just who are they? Solstice Development Services lists the Australian Coal Association and Transfield as its clients on its website. You have to wait until the fifth line — all the way over in the third column — to find out this study was paid for by the Minerals Council of Australia and the COAL21 Fund.

The COAL21 Fund is a Minerals Council initiative, started in 2003, to demonstrate that coal capture and storage, as well as emissions abatement, can work in Australia. Its page on the Minerals Council website says:

“The Fund is intended to help secure the future value of Australia’s black coal resources — which are owned by Australian states/territories — in a carbon-constrained economy and help maintain the coal industry’s social license to operate.”

So coal industry likes coal. Funnily enough, this one didn’t get the red ink “exclusive” treatment at the Oz.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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