From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

When everyone is watching the races part one. The race that stops a nation definitely doesn’t stop our elected officials … from partying mostly. As Glenn Dyer reports, many MPs were there, but their staffers weren’t. Health and Sport Minister Greg Hunt’s office used the day to announce that long-time Liberal pollster and campaign strategist Mark Textor had been handed a plum gig on the Australian Sports Commission board. AFL commissioner Gabrielle Trainor and former Tennis Australia director Andrea Mitchell (and former Liberal state MP) were also announced, bringing the number of women on the board to six out of 11 members.

Textor does have sporting experience — he’s chairman of the Amy Gillett Foundation. Since the appointment was reported on by BuzzFeed, Textor has said in a statement that he will donate his payment, which is around $44,000 to $66,000 per annum, to charity. 

When everyone is watching the races part two. Also while everyone was looking elsewhere around 3pm yesterday, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg’s office sent out a press release with the title “Rule Change to put customers first,” announcing that the Australian Energy Market Commission was releasing a rule that day to make energy companies alert their customers when their discount periods end. This isn’t new — it was one of the measures that came out of Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg’s meeting fest with the energy bosses earlier in the year. It was considered a big win by the government at the time — so why would it be released when everyone is looking at what’s happening at Flemington? 

Credit where its due. On the topic of all the MPs living it up in the Birdcage and various sponsors’ marquees yesterday, we have to give credit where its due. Pollies are required to declare gifts and hospitality on the register of interests within 28 days of the gift being received, but many are late (or miss the declaration entirely). Not Liberal MP for Goldstein Tim Wilson — he declared his Melbourne Cup tickets before even heading to the races. Wilson and his partner were guests of James Boags on Derby Day and also yesterday, and he also received passes from Treasury Estate Wines for Cup day. They were both declared on November 2 — before some had even picked up a form guide. Now how long will his colleagues take to make their declarations?

PR surge at Uber. Ride-sharing company Uber is on the look out for a new Head of Communications for Australia and New Zealand — a gig which apparently requires 10-15 years experience in the field. That’s not a surprise when you consider how many PR hassles the company has had to deal with — sexual harassment allegations, issues with drivers and pay, the whole issue of legality in many states of Australia. Crikey understands that the outgoing head of comms Katie Curran is headed to Amazon’s new Australian outpost.

Former Hanson ally changes teams. The former national secretary of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, Saraya Beric, has decided to throw her hat in the ring for a tilt at the Queensland state seat of Mermaid Beach in the upcoming State election as an independent. The seat is a safe LNP seat with 10.3% margin and One Nation isn’t running there. Beric and former PHON treasurer Ian Nelson were the two whistle blowers that spoke to Four Corners about a two seater Jabiru airplane that was bought by Victorian developer Bill McNee and used by Hanson’s staffer James Ashby.

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