We’ve all had some chuckles about Crikey’s little disclosures at the end of my recent political stories, such as this one on Wednesday: “Crikey: Against all our advice, Stephen Mayne is running as an independent candidate in the seat of Higgins.

Truth be known, Crikey editor Jonathan Green rang in September making an early bid for a “Higgins Diary”. We didn’t do a deal but it was only after nominations had closed that the call came through saying we’d rather you not write about Costello because no other candidate will get such a free ride.

There’s no bad blood over it, I’ve still snuck a few mentions in and only one marginal story didn’t get a run. However, knowing I’d be banned by the Murdoch press, it was going to be even more difficult without a good run through Crikey.

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In the end, I’ve scaled back the campaign to $5000 on 64,000 flyers and how to vote cards and instead concentrated on having a good AGM season, including today’s barney with James Packer at PBL. The one campaign speech was delivered last night – to the Eltham Rotary club three seats away in Jaga Jaga.

The main reason for Campaign Costello was the Treasurer’s ridiculous budget lock-up ban. After three years of banging our heads against a brick wall, I thought it was time for direct action to prosecute the argument: “You can lock Crikey out of the lock-up but you can’t lock us out of Higgins.”

Have a listen to on-air preference negotiation with Stephen Conroy from last Sunday on RRR when he bagged the ban.

Frankly, it’s a bit disappointing that Crikey hasn’t been more muscular on this specific press freedom issue – or even independently covered the prospect that Costello could still yet lose his seat on my preferences. This would be the ultimate punishment for his churlishness – yet Crikey has sought to portray the campaign as foolish.

Newspoll’s state breakdowns in yesterday’s paper predict Labor’s primary vote in Victoria will rise from 40.4% to 47% and the Greens will rise from 7.5% to 9% – a combined rise of 8.1%.

Costello might be saved by the very expensive campaign he has run – including one final direct mail letter and separate glossy flyer yesterday – and the Herald Sun’s front page backing of the Coalition this morning, along with The Age’s fence sitting.

However, with a margin of just 8.8%, he really could lose his seat, especially given he’s in the heart of Melbourne’s leafy suburbs and the Green vote rose 2.35% to 11.35% in 2004. One Nation always did worse in Victoria than anywhere else and the Lindsay shenanigans will go down very badly in Higgins.

Finally, Crikey ran a tip yesterday that Maxine McKew has 900 volunteers to work the booths. As someone trying to be “the Maxine McKew of Victoria”, it would be nice to have a problem like that.

Maybe Jonathan Green could relieve me on the Toorak booth for a couple of hours tomorrow afternoon.

Jonathan Green writes: Ah, no.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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