Election timing. An anonymous source at a major printing company has disclosed that the Australian Electoral Commission has cancelled a massive order of cards for its enrollment drive, suggesting that the election is indeed to be called imminently for mid-to-late August.

Journos want the dirt on Rudd. Australian journalists are ringing around friends of Kevin Rudd  asking if they think he has a personality disorder.

Bowtell gets the SL nod in Melbourne. Last night’s meeting of the ALP’s Socialist Left in Melbourne to endorse a candidate for the federal seat vacated by Lindsay Tanner threw up only one name as expected — WorkSafe Victoria executive and former ACTU officer Cath Bowtell. The party is expected to try everything to “take the fight” to the Greens and the Liberals, with Bowtell’s gender likely to form the key part of an “historic” push to keep a grip on the electorate that has been in Labor hands since 1904. The broader party is expected to formally endorse Bowtell next week, contingent on any last minute bombs thrown from the right or the militant left.

Health numbers don’t add up. Late night backroom calculations can produce some spectacularly expensive mistakes. Is that what happened at the April 2010 COAG meeting on health? The Commonwealth agreed to pay the states about $1.62 billion to build 1316 sub-acute care beds over four years. The government has told the Senate Committee on Finance and Public Administration that the agreement is based on $600,000 (indexed) for the capital cost of a new bed (plus indexation) and $220,000 per year (indexed) for operating costs. The sums just don’t add up. No matter how you calculate this, you must come to the conclusion that the Commonwealth is paying the states between $150 million and $170 million too much.

Where did the BER funds go in SA? The South Australian government has had a fairly low-profile approach to the building education revolution spending rip-off enumerated in other states. Not surprising given what was centrally organised by Patrick Conlon between his Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure and Treasury — 25% of allocated funds meant for school communities has gone directly to SA consolidated revenue. The SA government has been the rip-off merchant for this one.

Hocking Stuart restructure? Could several of Melbourne real estate firm Hocking Stuart’s franchises be about to abandon their corporate overlord and throw their lot in with a former owner? Word is leading Hocking Stuart offices in Melbourne’s leafy inner suburbs, including Albert Park, St Kilda and Carlton, could soon shack up again with father figure Greg Hocking when his non-compete clause expires next week. Hocking sold the franchise business for $12 million to eight directors in July 2007.

Peter Fray

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