Today’s Financial Review carries an interesting piece by Luke Slattery revealing that the PM will tonight announce that Sydney University has won the battle to host the new $50 million US studies centre.

Crikey understands the story is right – and the decision has put quite a few noses out of joint in Melbourne establishment circles.

Melbourne University put in a detailed bid to establish the “Keith Murdoch Centre for United States Studies”, agreeing to chip in $10 million with $10 million more to come from the Bracks government. 

But people associated with the Melbourne bid now believe the fix was in and there was never any chance that the centre — which was the brainchild of Michael Baume, a former minister in the Fraser Government and close friend of the PM –would end up anywhere other than Sydney University.

According to the AFR “Sydney, the nation’s oldest sandstone university, has beaten Melbourne on the strength of its academic programs, funding package, and governance arrangements.” Either that or Sydney had the inside running from the get-go.

The Federal Government is reported to be chipping in $25 million for the project, and the Australia America Association has pledged to raise matching funds from the business community.

But the tin rattling in Melbourne might prove a little more difficult than some anticipated.