From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Macdonald hits new low. While this week's Legal and Constitutional Affairs estimates hearing didn't feature the debacle of May, when the senate's worst committee chair, Ian Macdonald, tried to silence a Greens senator and -- after a very heated private meeting in which Eric Abetz and Penny Wong had to play peacemakers -- learnt he didn't have the power, Macdonald found a different low point. Yesterday, Macdonald asked the Australian Federal Police about the incident last December when a man tried to blow himself up near the offices of the Australian Christian Lobby in Canberra. Now, to be fair, we think the ACL's stoush with the AFP about this isn't entirely unreasonable. The man concerned, who recently took his own life, was clearly motivated by the desire to self-harm, but also expressed hatred for the ACL. However, the AFP rejected that as a motivation for his actions. The ACL is quite right to query the AFP's stance on this. But Macdonald, who admitted he was asking questions at the behest of the ACL, wanted to go further with the issue, and then was followed by Eric Abetz, who proceeded to ask detailed questions about the man concerned and his actions. Wong and Labor colleague Louise Pratt both raised concerns about the sensitivity of publicly discussing suicide details. But Macdonald was having none of it, and explicitly said that an estimates hearing shouldn't be worried about such issues.