From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

New gig for Bronny? NSW Premier Mike Baird announced today that most councils across the state have been sacked and will be run by administrators until new elections for amalgamated councils in 2017. Some councils were spared, namely those where it was politically inconvenient and where court cases against the move are still underway. We had heard that the announcement would also include a gig for former speaker Bronwyn Bishop, who will soon find herself out of a job.

A tipster tells us that Bishop will soon be announced as the administrator of a soon-to-be formed Northern Beaches council, taking in the current Manly, Warringah and Pittwater councils “unless common sense prevails and Mike Baird is talked out of a very silly idea”. We called Baird’s office for comment yesterday and were told to contact Minister for Local Government Paul Toole, whose office would only say: “Announcements regarding the outcome of merger proposals and governance arrangements will be made in due course.” Bishop has denied the claims this morning, but that doesn’t mean the idea wasn’t floated.

Vote for him because I’ve been great. The Liberal Party has got in early with tipsters in electorates across Australia getting in touch to let us know they have already received letters from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull endorsing their local MP or candidate. The letter from Turnbull says, “in this very uncertain world, Australia needs political stability and a strong economic plan for jobs and families”.

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One tipster has shared their letter endorsing Freedom Boy Tim Wilson, replacing Trade Minister Andrew Robb in the seat of Goldstein.

Andrew Robb letter

Andrew Robb 2

Voters in Goldstein also got Robb’s endorsement of Wilson, as the former trade minister passed the torch of the safe seat in Melbourne’s leafy beachside suburbs. The letter reminds voters what Robb has achieved:

Turnbull letter

A vote by post is a vote for the Libs. The Turnbull letter is the same form letter that has been sent to us by other tipsters, one of whom received it in Monday’s post — meaning it was sent before Turnbull even visited Yarralumla on Sunday. The letters come in an envelope that reads “important postal vote information” along with a postal vote form, which asks for the voter’s contact details and a “security question”, which could let the political party know the middle name of your oldest child. We’ve covered this before, as regular readers will be aware, but it’s worth mentioning again, as one person who received the postal vote form thought it meant that her vote would automatically go to her Liberal MP. This article from Crikey in 2013 shows just what political parties do with the information:

“You’ve just told the Liberal Party or the Labor Party your name, date of birth, mobile phone number, email address, enrolled address, postal address, where you were born and who your first employer was, and you’ve given the party your signature.

“And you probably don’t even know it — because there’s nothing on that reply-paid envelope to indicate that you’re sending it to a political party (although there will be some advertising material from a candidate contained in the letter).

“You’d like to see what personal information political parties have filed on you? You can’t. Parties are exempt under the Privacy Act; you have no right to access your file.

“Next, the political party — which might use tracking systems to work out whether you’re likely to vote for it — is supposed to send the form on to the Australian Electoral Commission (it’s an offence under section 197 of the Electoral Act not to). But it might just sit on your form a for a while, perhaps long enough that you never get that postal ballot paper (the Electoral Act prohibits stockpiling, but studies indicate it takes place). And party officials might “correct” details on your application form before sending it on (that’s happened before).”

While the AEC has tried in the past to make the practice illegal, it has had no luck. Of course it’s not just a Liberal thing, and it’s not even confined to the major parties. This photo was uploaded to Imgur yesterday, with an important-looking seal and bold text saying “voting is compulsory” — from Greens MP Adam Bandt. Of course, voting is compulsory — but filling out these forms definitely isn’t.

adam bandt postal vote

Sign of the Pynes. From letters to posters — the controversy in South Australia is about whether or not the Liberal and Labor parties, including Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, has illegally put up corflutes before the writs have been issued for the election. Council bylaws in South Australia ban election signage from being placed on council sign poles or power poles until the writs are issued, which won’t be until Monday, even though campaigning is in full swing. On Tuesday candidates were given 24 hours to remove their own signs, before council workers would move on them, but one council has said it would be a waste of funds for their staff to remove them. Onkaparinga Council will be removing the signs and fining candidates $100 per poster. Nick Xenophon says putting up the posters is cheating:

xenophon tweet

Nice to hear from you, Barry. Want to know what President Barack Obama discussed with Malcolm Turnbull in last night’s phone call? The fight against Islamic State, “key principles in addressing maritime disputes, in particular ensuring freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of disputes” — a long way of saying China and the South China Sea.

zoe daniel tweet

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

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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