From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Postal scam gets worse. Have you received your official-looking letter urging you to apply for a postal vote yet? Be careful — it’s a (perfectly legal) scam from the ALP and the Liberals to harvest your personal details. Yesterday we told you how it works. But wait, there’s more — we’ve since learned that you’re paying for this scam. It’s taxpayer-funded. Normally MPs can’t use their printing and communications allowance for electioneering material. But this is a loophole; they can slip in a “vote for me” pamphlet, and it’s all paid for by the public.

Each sitting member can print out and post these postal vote applications to up to 50% of the number of enrolled voters in his or her electorate (read the rules here). And that’s why we’ve heard from so many Crikey readers who’ve received these letters from one or both major parties — because it’s free (for the pollies). As one reader reports:

“I may be old fashioned, and this could all be perfectly above board, but today as a voter in the Warringah electorate I got a letter from Tony Abbott. Included in the letter was an application form for a postal vote, and a reply paid envelope to Tony’s office. Could that be right?”

Yep, it is. They all do it. Here’s another example:

“You can add Sydney to the list of electorates that received unmarked Liberal postal vote material. The material inside the envelope came with both AEC and Liberal-branded material (the AEC postal vote form also had the Liberal logo and slogan on it). Looks like an endorsement to me. I used the prepaid envelope to send back a nasty letter. At least it cost them the 50c.”

At least they knew who was behind it — another reader reports on a covert operation:

“I received one in Kingsford Smith with no party material inside; just a reply paid envelope and the form. So I couldn’t even identify which party or individual I was being asked to trust with my voter information. Might have just been left out by accident, but I thought I’d let you know anyway. Address on reply paid envelope is Reply Paid 249 Maroubra NSW 2035.”

We think that’s a Labor-connected address, but a Google search was inconclusive.

Diaz connections revealed. Crikey‘s favourite candidate for the election campaign is easily Jaymes Diaz, who fielded tough questions about his party’s policies so memorably. The Diaz family is prominent in the Greenway area, although not universally popular. Tony Abbott was unimpressed that Diaz failed to win the marginal electorate in 2010 and reportedly looked very hard to find someone else this time around — but the Diaz crew control key local branches.

Following up a tip from the public, we can confirm that Jaymes’ father, Jesus (Jess) Diaz, a Blacktown councillor, Liberal identity, lawyer and migration agent, was suspended as a migration agent for three years back in 2003. The authorities at the time said the decision was made because “among other things, the agent failed to deal with his client competently, diligently, fairly and without any conflict of interest that would affect the legitimate interests of the client and failed to have sound working knowledge of the Migration Act and migration regulations”. Diaz senior has since re-registered.

Waterhouse sells out. See, we were right. As Crikey told you way back in June, Tom Waterhouse has finally announced the sale of his bookmaking business to British gaming empire William Hill. Though the price we heard was inflated — AAP reports today he’ll get $34 million for the business, and up to $70 million as part of an earn-out agreement.

Protester taunts at Maccas site. And now crossing to the eastern Victorian hamlet of Tecoma and that increasingly bitter dispute over the McDonald’s site, where a Crikey mole reports:

“I was at the site yesterday. The protest group put on a sombre display while the demo crew went about their business. What was distressing (not to say inappropriate) was a BR Demolition director taunting the protesters. He was spinning the excavator around while smirking and waving. He then got out and up on the tracks to take photos of the protesters below him and behind the police exclusion zone. He was smug, rude and if anyone got any vision (I certainly didn’t) I think McDonald’s may have to explain his actions. Not the best way to deal with a community that already detests your behaviour.”

Meanwhile, after Wednesday’s alleged police assault on a stilt-wearing protester, the protester in question was quickly whisked to Belgrave Medical Clinic. A local source takes up the story:

“Local Belgrave doctor Denis Gration is well known to the campaign and has spoken at rallies from a medical perspective. After Denis saw the injuries inflicted on the protester he ran down to the protest line and demanded to see the senior police officer. The police would not even engage him and refused to say who was in charge. Denis ‘payed out’ on them in a most elegant fashion and the boys in blue looked extremely embarrassed.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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