From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Fifield addresses NBN’s coffee addiction. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has rounded on the NBN in a humorous speech to the telecommunications industry last night. In a nod to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Donald Trump impression at the Midwinter Ball, Fifield acknowledged that the speech could be leaked, but he would still do his best to continue the tradition of a roast with the ACOMM Awards address.

In reference to the $437,000 spent by NBN Co on coffee machines, Fifield also announced the Telecommunications Act amendment “Pay for Your Own Coffee, Bill, Bill 2017”. NBN Co’s CEO is Bill Morrow. Fifield said all coffee machines would be removed from the offices and there would be two components to coffee pricing:

“The AVC, or Aggregated Virtual Coffee charge, which would be calculated according to the size of the coffee cup, and also the CVC, or the Calculated Virtual Coffee charge, which would be calculated according to how much coffee is actually poured into the cup.”

Staff would no longer be able to buy coffee from the cafe, and the charges would be regulated by the ACCC, Fifield joked.

“Before anyone accuses the government of introducing new regulations just to support the business model of one provider, it must be remembered that NBN Co’s unsustainable coffee costs are all a result of the gold-plated coffee machines installed by the NBN under the previous Labor government.”

Labor’s Michelle Rowland and Ed Husic also attended the awards, but Fifield said Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam was an apology (probably because of his resignation).

Rewriting history. Is the history of the Eureka Stockade about to become another front in Australia’s culture wars? The Institute of Public Affairs has released research saying that the trade union movement shouldn’t claim the uprising in the Ballarat goldfields as part of their history, as it was really about individual workers wanting lower taxes — more like Australia’s own Boston Tea Party (and we know how claiming the history of that has gone in the US). In a release today about the video “Australia’s Own Tea Party Revolution” the IPA’s Dr Bella d’Abrera says: “The battle that won Australians the right to vote was a revolt against higher taxes”. We wait to see if it catches on.

Hello, sweetie. The internet reacted with a mixture of elation and fury this week to the news that the new Doctor Who would be played by Jodie Whittaker. One of the most famous fans of the British time-travelling series is Queensland LNP MP George Christensen, who has even campaigned to have episodes of the show filmed in Australia. We wanted to get Christensen’s view on Whittaker’s selection, as it is well known that all Whovians have strong opinions on their favourite Doctors. Christensen’s staff told us he didn’t have time to give us his assessment as he is travelling and dealing with more pressing matters. All we have to go on is this Pinterest-worthy tweet: “Time will tell. It always does.”

Coal is dead (well, deader than it already is). Brace yourselves, Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott and Matt Canavan: someone is going to say something really negative about coal. Rail Group CSX, one of America’s biggest carriers of coal, reported its second-quarter profit overnight Wednesday, and its high-profile CEO Hunter Harrison says fossil fuels have no future. So certain of this was he, that he told analysts CSX will not buy another rail locomotive to pull coal trains.

“Fossil fuels are dead,” Harrison said. “That’s a long-term view. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to be in two or three years. But it’s going away, in my view.” He’s not saying CSX will not stop carrying coal, but it won’t be investing in the business from now on. In the US context, it’s not great news for US President Donald Trump, who in his Make America Great campaign promised to put “an end to the war on coal”. The White House is attempting to revive the American coal industry by dropping environmental regulations and abandoning the Paris climate agreement. Big business isn’t listening, even those making money out of coal.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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