From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Jonesing for a nod. Earlier this year, we reported that the Melbourne Press Club was considering inducting controversial broadcaster Alan Jones into its Hall of Fame, as the Victorian club extends membership to luminaries from around the country. The move seemed an interesting one considering Jones has been censured by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for his comments on climate change, and before the Cronulla riots. At the time, Melbourne Press Club CEO Mark Baker wouldn’t comment on who had been selected as a candidate — but he did give the caveat:

“A key criterion for induction into the Media Hall of Fame is that the individual had a profound impact on their branch of the media. It is not a beauty contest or a form guide for sainthood. Many of the 81 foundation inductees of the Hall of Fame had highly controversial careers but all of them were pioneers or leaders in their fields — people who had a big impact on the evolution of Australian journalism.”

On Friday, the Melbourne Press Club announced a group of “media pioneers” from New South Wales to be inducted to the Hall of Fame at an event scheduled for November, including John Fairfax and Henry Parkes. There’s a promise of more NSW inductees later in the year, including “living legends”. Will Jones make the cut or will the murmurs dog his chances?

Department store downturn. One of the more pleasing elements of economic data this year has been an improvement in retail sales. On Thursday, the ABS reported a third straight positive result for retail turnover with a 0.3% seasonally adjusted rise in June. After a soft start in the March quarter, with those three months delivering a total of just 0.2% growth, the 1.9% growth in the June quarter is a sign that wages stagnation isn’t killing demand entirely. And it’s becoming clearer than ever before that pretty much every retail sector is actually doing OK — except department stores. Department stores notched up -0.3% growth in June, seasonally adjusted, following -0.9% growth in May. In fact, four out of six months this year have been negative, seasonally adjusted, for department stores, suggesting that sector is on course to match its 2016 result when seven out of 12 months were negative. No other sector even comes close — the beleaguered clothing, footwear and personal accessory sector has posted four straight months of growth and only had four months of negative growth last year. The department store model clearly has problems even before Tropical Cyclone Amazon makes landfall.

Balls act Down Under. Australian Labor is marking 10 years since the global financial crisis with a series of events in partnership with the Chifley Research Centre and the Australia Institute to talk about the end of neoliberalism and (probably) Bill Shorten’s favourite topic of inequality. The big drawcards for policy wonks are men who were on the front line of the GFC, Labor supporters were told over the weekend: 

“So in conjunction with the Australia Institute, we’re bringing one of the key global players who helped shape the international response to the GFC — the UK’s Former Economic Secretary to the Treasury Ed Balls — to Australia for a national speaking tour with former Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan.”

While we are sure the conversation will be very serious and worthy, this is a great opportunity to recall that for many of us the former shadow chancellor is most famous for tweeting his own name six years ago, which has now been retweeted more than 95,000 times.

Ms Tips is also reminded that he was a star of last year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing in the UK. Maybe he could swap notes with Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson, the Australian senators who competed in Dancing with the Stars.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey