From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours … 

How Abetz saved Christmas. At the beginning of the month, Ms Tips made the rather cruel joke at the expense of Tasmanian Senator and world’s oldest 59-year-old Eric Abetz. A tipster has since gotten in touch to prove that Abetz does important, tireless work on behalf of his constituents. They have pointed us toward the questions on notice section of the most recent budget hearings Senate estimates, which shows Abetz has been grilling public servants on what really matters: just how are they wording their Christmas, New Year, Easter and/or (heaven forefend) Ramadan messages to staff?

Abetz has written to 19 different departments and agencies with a variation of the question, “Please provide the messages (if any) sent to staff (on the most recent occasions) of Christmas/New Year, Easter and Ramadan by the Secretary of the Department or Agency Heads at the relevant time”. So next time you find yourself thinking that Abetz and his ilk are nought but political flotsam, inexplicably still funded by public money, to loudly pursue hard conservative identity politics, which would have been fringe and fading 20 years ago, just remember: Abetz was committed enough to the issues facing Tasmania to spend time and energy making sure that the head of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal wasn’t trying to pull some “Happy Holidays” bullshit in an all staff email.

Crowe back on his feet. Notwithstanding that former political correspondent at The Australian David Crowe, who wrapped up with the Oz on December 8, looks noticeably happier as a freelancer, we hear he may not be without a full-time gig for long. Fairfax will need someone to take over from chief political correspondent James Massola when he ducks over to Jakarta to be their south-east Asia correspondent, and we hear that Crowe is a front-runner. Know more? Let us know.

Jensen’s stand-in revealed. We spent a little time speculating about the movie adaptation of Saturday Paper editor Erik Jensen’s Acute Misfortune. In particular, whether a) Jensen would be a character, and b) if so, who’s playing him? We have finally answered those two. a) Yes b) It’s … well … not an unflattering choice of actor, shall we say. British-born Romper Stomper star and striking lad Toby Wallace is taking the role of the 19-year-old author attempting to profile troubled artist Adam Cullen. We wonder if Jensen had any hand in picking who’d play him? Anyway, here’s a photo Ms Tips found in a not-at-all creepy scroll of Wallace’s Instagram profile:


Hear no evil, Sino evil. The government has already made hay with the scandal that breached and eventually sunk Sam Dastyari’s career as a Senator. And now, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has used the fact that Dastyari was accepting money from associates of the Chinese Communist Party to call the fallen Senator a “double-agent”. Labor have countered that this was just old-fashioned prejudice on the part of the government, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten calling it “China-phobia” during a doorstop while campaigning for Kristina Keneally in the upcoming Bennelong byelection — a deflection we’re sure has nothing at all to do with Bennelong’s high Chinese population.

Of course, the Coalition has denied any and all Sinophobia. Treasurer Scott Morrison gone so far as to point out that most “uniquely Australian celebration”: Chinese New Year. Yep, Treasurer Scott Morrison said, out loud, while shilling for Liberal candidate John Alexander: “One of the biggest Australian celebrations is Chinese new year. It has become an Australian celebration. A uniquely Australian celebration …” Because let’s face it, there’s nothing that screams respect for a culture more than claiming one of their celebrations — enjoyed by over a billion Chinese people and diaspora in practically every country in the world — is unique to Australia.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected]use our guaranteed anonymous form or other ways to leak to us securely

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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