From the Crikey grapevine, it’s the latest tips and rumours…

Press release of the week. It’s only natural that, after being caught in the crosshairs of a Four Corners investigation, a peak body would look to start changing the record. Alas, National Council of Irrigators have somewhat jumped the gun. They sent out their missive on Cash Splash — Four Corners’ investigation into water theft — to various NSW politicians decrying the story as “biased and one sided”, and appealing to the elected representatives as fellow victims of  “unbalanced coverage” to avoid drawing too many conclusions from the show. This went out on the morning of July 8 which, a pedant might note, is quite a few hours before the show aired. Greens pollie David Shoebridge was so good as to share the “response” on Twitter.

We’ve got a question for NSW Health. The Sydney Morning Herald ignited a small storm with a front page yesterday exclaiming that “NSW Ministry of Health data indicates up to 90% of young festival patrons used drugs”. The story also cited the NSW Users and AIDS Association as offering “anecdotal evidence” of a slightly higher figure. Seems high doesn’t it? Well dig a little deeper. We suspect that high figure is likely confusing lifetime drug use with substance use at festivals specifically. It’s important to recognise that many people use drugs at some point in their lives, but that’s a far cry from the improbably high “90% at festivals” statistic.

Such an alarmist number could be misused by police in prohibitionist NSW to push for further punitive and harmful policies, so there’s an urgent need for clarity on the source of the statistic. Especially when the same report challenges the claim that police have a “strong deterrent effect”. Crikey reckons NSW Health should make the relevant reports or research readily available to ensure that it is correctly interpreted.

Oh Christ, what’s this now? The US Conservative Political Action Conference is holding it’s first Australian date and… it’s exactly what you’re picturing. Republican congressmen, Fox News “analysts”, and Brexit-pushing-milkshake-magnet Nigel Farage will be joined by such local luminaries as Craig Kelly, Janet Albrechtsen and up and coming culture warrior Senator Amanda Stoker. Truly, the local line up runs the entire spectrum of conservative thought in Australia, from people who are always on Outsiders, to people who are not allowed to be on Outsiders anymore.

And what will this edifying three day experience set you back? A mere $600 bucks if you want the VIP experience — a “Reagan VIP Freedom Pass” to be exact, a name which is just missing an eagles’ shriek and some red, white and blue fireworks. You can also get an “Iron Lady General Pass” or, cheapest of all, a “Menzies 3-day Pass” for $149.

Hot tip guys: if you’re going to a new country to spread the good word on free markets and fighting the PC thought police, don’t make their conservative icon the budget option. Crikey would love to go, but unfortunately we’ll be busy spending those three days trying to drink several buckets of partially dried cement.

You can’t take it with you. Is former tourism minister Steven Ciobo ok? 


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