From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

¿Estás de broma, Senor Newman? Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has famously warned his state risks becoming the “Spain of Australian states” due to its apparently disastrous finances — but that’s not quite what his government is telling overseas investors.

Here’s what Newman told reporters when explaining why he just couldn’t find money to help people with a disability, under the proposed NDIS:

“We have a $47 billion budget but we have an operating deficit of $2.8 billion … if we had the money it might be a different matter. I’m saying that if we fail to act in a way that we are that Queensland would ultimately be the Spain of Australian states.”

And here’s what the Queensland Treasury Corporation is telling investors, in this handy “blue book”, released on June 30:

“Over the past 25 years Queensland’s economy has grown rapidly; exceeding the average growth for both Australia and OECD member countries … Queensland’s employment growth rate has consistently exceeded that of the national economy … Queensland’s taxation environment is favourable compared to other Australian states and territories.”

Then a graph on the state budget, which appears to be the main inspiration for Newman’s Spanish comparison. The graph shows the “general government sector net operating balance” has been at zero or in the black for almost all of the past decade, dipping below zero in 2010-11.

And here are Queensland’s credit ratings as helpfully shown in the QTC’s blue book:

So try as we may, Senor Newman, we just can’t see that Queensland’s financial situation has much in common with Spain (think unemployment at 24.6%). Of course, both regions have lovely warm weather and people with impressive suntans … is that what Newman was thinking of?

The tipster who alerted us to the blue book has this to say: “Come on LNP — you are governing now, no time for made-up figures”.

A “total peasant”? Staying with Newman, celebrated crooner Katie Noonan was not impressed with his behaviour at a gig last night, posting this on Facebook:

Now, as Newman should know, it’s quite OK to indulge in this kind of behaviour when watching the Hilltop Hoods at Splendour in the Grass (as Rob Oakeshott did recently, tweeting: “They blew the roof off the Splendour tent”), but the serious songstress Noonan is a different kind of gig altogether.

Noonan’s post had 750 likes by 11am today. One commenter added their opinion: “The man is a total peasant”. Seems like Newman’s decision to axe the Premier’s Literary Awards has engendered some hostility.

We do enjoy hearing what prominent politicians get up to when they’re away from the cameras, so feel free to drop us a line. We’re pretty sure it’s not just Newman who may commit the odd social faux pas.

Computer says no. The Commonwealth Bank has hit a few problems. Not only is it running a rather unfortunate ad raising doubts that swimmer James Magnussen could deliver on his potential at the Olympics (he hasn’t), but a mole tells us that “a major upgrade to the software on several hundred servers at Commonwealth Bank did not work at the weekend. Consequently CBA tech staff are having to rebuild them all. A major glitch, but [it] is being kept very quiet.”

Meanwhile, we’ve heard there are also a few IT hiccups over at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Apparently the EDGE online service is not recognising some directors so they can’t get through on the phone. We hope Greg Medcraft can get through OK.

Observer or participant? One tipster was surprised to see The Australian’s health reporter Sue Dunlevy listed to speak at the National Rural Health Alliance’s “Why has dental health been getting the brush off?” policy forum to be held in Canberra in August. According to the official program, Dunlevy will give a keynote address entitled: “How to keep the issue on the political and media agenda”.

“One hopes there will be a Q&A session after Dunlevy speaks at which one might ask if she believes the $500 million directed to a public dental health scheme in the last budget was indeed a ‘brush off’,” says our unimpressed informant.

Sheikh hits the road. Q&A star Simon Sheikh quit GetUp! last week to “pack up the car and head out to see more of this remarkable country” for a “change of pace” with enviro-type wife Anna Rose — and Crikey is wondering which tunes are on to the power couple’s car stereo. Given that Sheikh will inevitably one day seek Labor preselection (although a source close to him says this won’t be happening any time soon), Swanny favourite Born to Run will almost certainly be included. But for those late nights on desert roads, you can’t go past the West Wing theme song — which the activist chose to accompany Rose’s trip down the aisle in November.

*Do you know more? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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