From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Do it, Dee. There was bit of a celeb turnout at Readings Carlton on Wednesday night, when arch-leftist Jonathan Green ((c) G.Henderson/all media) ran a Q and A with Labor spinmeister Dee Madigan, launching her book The Hard Sell. One question Madigan didn’t get asked was about persistent rumours that she’ll be running for preselection in either Banks or Reid — inner-city Sydney Liberal gains in 2013, now gone soft again because of the 18c stuff-up. Crikey asked anyway, and Madigan denied it. “They did ask me to run against Tony in 2013, but I couldn’t bear the thought.” Madigan doubts she’ll be asked again, after telling Michael Kroger to “fuck off” on TV last week, an act that most would think puts her in line to be Australian of the Year. She has kinder words for her opposite number on Sky’s The Contrarians, Ross Cameron: “He’s a man who enjoys his hobbies.”

Is this high school? Hahaha, hilarious. Peter Phelps, the NSW Liberal MLC and General Pinochet fanboy has used his powers as government whip to put a condolence motion through the NSW Legislative Council … for Labor’s Socialist Objective, which was knocked on the head at a recent state conference (Phelps would probably prefer that it be executed in a stadium, which is how he likes his political transitions). Well, let’s face it, NSW government whips have nine fewer members to keep an eye on, so the man has time on his hands. After the next election, he may have to write his own.

Aged care woes. As if moving your loved ones into aged care weren’t stressful enough, we hear that changes to the means test for government-subsidised care have made the process even longer and more difficult. Changes that came into effect on July 1 mean the test for receiving government help now includes the family home as an asset as well as any income — not only does this make care more expensive, but according to our tipster, the roll-out has been a “horrendously mismanaged, rushed process”.

The forms to assess income and assets are processed through Centrelink, but we hear there has been a backlog of applications, meaning it takes up to four weeks to get a claim processed, and another one to two weeks’ delay in the notification being sent to families — that can be a long time for some who have no option but to get into care. The new forms — which sound more like a small book, at 32 pages with 104 questions — were also not printed in time for the roll-out of the changes and are still in short supply, according to our tipster. Insiders say some families tried to beat the changes by getting in before June 30 to avoid extra hassles in a system they say is “unbelievably overwhelming and confusing”. We asked the Department of Human Services what the go is and were told that the forms were available to download and print since July 1 (all 32 pages). On the delays, the spokesperson said:
“In complex cases the means testing process for people entering aged care can take about four weeks if, for example, valuation of assets is required. The department is aware there have been some delays in the issuing of letters of assessment and is urgently working to resolve the issue.”

You’ve got mail. After one tipster received this letter from Liberal MP Peter Hendy, a few others have shared their correspondence with the political parties across the country. One tipster tells us he is waiting for the ALP to reply to his emails demanding to know how the party got his details. Good luck with that. Many of the recipients of these letters say they don’t know how the pollies get their details, but it seems our addresses — both physical and online — are not very secret.This email came from the Liberals in Victoria, and while we find the use of a hashtag at the end a bit desperate, it’s nothing compared to offering prizes in exchange for donations.

This one came from the New South Wales government, and our tipster says the writers of The Hollowmen will be kicking themselves that they didn’t come up with an “innovation initiative”.

If you ever receive some interesting correspondence from your local MP that deserves a larger audience, pass it on.

Approvals and debts stack up. Here’s something for Campbell Newman to think about. Yesterday he trumpeted approval by Queensland’s Co-ordinator-General for a new 300-kilometre rail line from Abbot Point port to carry up to 100 million tonnes a year of thermal coal from Indian giant Adani’s vast Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin. On the same day, Adani spent 6000 crore (60 billion rupees or about US$985 million) to buy the 1200-megawatt Udupi power station in Kanataka, India, to run on 100% imported coal. The deal is two-thirds debt-funded, adding roughly another US$650 million in debt to Adani’s balance sheet, already loaded with US$6.3 billion in borrowings. Like many of India’s power stations, Udupi is suffering fuel shortages and losing money — which is why stricken vendor Lanco Infratech (which coincidentally, owns the Griffin Coal mine in WA) wanted rid of it.

The deal won’t make it any easier for Adani to pull off a financial close on the $16 billion Carmichael coal/rail/port development, especially with thermal coal trading below US$70 a tonne. Investors weren’t fazed, though: Adani’s Mumbai-listed shares rose 4% to 53.95 rupees on news of the deal, continuing a rally in the wake of strong profit results and reports it is likely to sell down its interest in the coal export terminal at Abbot Point. It’s a much worse story for Adani’s rival in the Galilee Basin, the GVK partnership with Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting. Mumbai-listed GVK Power reported a wider first-quarter loss of 281 crore (US$46 million), sending its shares down 5%. And no mention anywhere of the US$560 million final tranche payment on the joint venture deal, due to Hancock in a month. The US$10 billion Alpha coal projects — which were going to open up the Galilee Basin — are looking further away than ever.

Indies in Indi. Independent Cathy McGowan’s improbable victory over Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella in the seat of Indi at last year’s election seemed a story destined to be made into a heart-warming film. Luckily some young filmmakers from the electorate worked this out at the time, and they’re planning on releasing the movie in October. Like most independent filmmakers they are crowdfunding, but they’ve already created this trailer to show their movie-making skills.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

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