Scott Morrison suddenly out of feedback for Victoria’s state politicians, we’re seeing the kickback from Simon Birmingham’s ARC grant vetoes, and is the Daily Mail about to face court? From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours…

What a guy. As we hurtle towards the Victorian state election, our Steve Bradbury Prime Minister has finally met someone who needs him (as opposed to the rest of us who jolt awake every day remembering that, weirdly, Scott Morrison is our Prime Minister). State liberal leader Matthew Guy said in Ballarat on Monday “I need him involved and I’ll be having him involved” in the campaign. But, perhaps in a sign of just how toxic the Victorian Liberal brand is, Morrison, when asked about his involvement, played the “I’ll see you when I see you” card. 

Saying he was sure their paths would cross, the PM added “I’m not Victorian so I don’t pretend to tell Victorians what the issues are in Victoria”.

Which is news to us. Back in early September, a week or so after he arrived in the PM’s office, Morrison had a lot of thoughts on what the issues are in Victoria. And guess what he said those issues were:

Law and order means something in NSW and I feel for Victorians who are asking the big question, why is this happening in our city and not other places? There is a law and order problem clearly in Victoria. There is a high proportion of Sudanese in NSW too but we don’t have a problem, so this is a law and order problem. When you don’t have that control and the rule of law being imposed on your community then people will take advantage of it. 

Poor old Matthew just wants a buddy to sit with on the campaign bus.

On your Marque. Journalists in Australia do not like the Daily Mail very much. The UK tabloid has been accused may times of copying articles written by journalists at other outlets, they claim, word for word. The time may have come for the Mail to lawyer up. After an outpouring of online anger at the Mail following a tweet from News Corp’s Eliza Barr, law firm Marque Lawyers weighed in, suggesting the tabloid could be sued for copyright infringement, and said they’d look into the case. 

Several journalists weighed in below, offering to join in a class action against the Mail. It should be said Crikey‘s own contributor Michael Bradley is a managing partner at Marque, and that Crikey reckons a few other outlets would go down if such a plagiarism case became the precedent.

Grant hacking. Last week, former education minister Simon Birmingham came under fire from academics and opposition pollies after revelations he blocked Australian Research Council funding grants into various social science related projects he found objectionable or otherwise uninteresting.

In a fiery email sent to staff, Margaret Gardner, chair of Universities Australia and the Vice Chancellor of Monash University lashed out at ‘Birmo’s’ decision, calling it “a fundamental affront to the principles on which universities operate”. Birmingham’s intervention is not totally unprecedented — during the Howard years, Brendan Nelson rejected several such grants. Still, Gardner’s response indicates the blocked grants may sour the relationship between the government and the higher education sector.

“When there are those who by their words and deeds seek to undermine the nature of our collective academic endeavour, we must stand and strongly protest,” Gardner said.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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