From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Labor makes that hotline bling. The Labor Party (or someone pretending to be the Labor Party) is targeting voters by text message, continuing the claim that the Liberals want to privatise Medicare.

After the party trotted out Bob Hawke for his first ad appearance since he was prime minister, Labor’s campaign around the “secret Liberal plan” to privatise Medicare — which the government denies — has taken a new and invasive turn.

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Labor text message

A tipster sent us this text message, received last night, which warns “Mr Turnbull has plans to privatise our Medicare. Labor built Medicare and now we need your help to defend it. Can you help?” This is followed by a link to a webpage where the recipient can make a donation to the party, with no further details on the so-called privatisation of Medicare.

Which is all pretty standard stuff, until you consider the tipster is not a Labor Party member, has never subscribed to the ALP online updates, and has never provided her phone number to the party. Voters are very sensitive to the ways in which political parties use their data and want to know how they are getting this info. The eagle-eyed reader will also note there is no “unsubscribe” option.

Have you received a similar message? Do you know how the ALP has your number? Drop us a line here.

I just called to say… I want your vote. Speaking of the ways the ALP is constantly contacting voters, a tipster tells us he received an official-sounding robocall on Tuesday night, and we’ve got the recording here.

“I assume it’s being targeted at marginal seats as I live in the Lindsay electorate. There is no mention of parties or candidates. In fact, it is designed to sound like it’s coming from the AEC and is simply an explanation of the new voting system. But I was curious about the website it provided people for more information about pre-poll voting: The website is Labor branded and lists all NSW electorates. Clicking on my electorate, I get a link to a ‘how to vote’ card and then a list of pre-poll locations and opening times.”

Unlike the letters that encourage people to register for postal votes by sending their details to political parties, this doesn’t seem like a data-mining exercise, just a way to get how-to-vote cards in front of early voters.

NBN said call me, maybe? In the kerfuffle around NBN referring leaks to the AFP that resulted in ALP offices being raided last month, there were lots of questions about who knew what when. It took a couple of days, but Communications Minister Mitch Fifield admitted he’d been briefed by NBN about the referral late last year but swears he didn’t tell the Prime Minister or anyone else in cabinet, despite the fact that the NBN had been Malcolm Turnbull’s baby until he took the top job.

At the time, Crikey filed an FOI for any communications between NBN and Turnbull, Fifield, Attorney-General George Brandis or Justice Minister Michael Keenan, just to check whether anyone else had been given a heads up in the meantime.

NBN informs us that the “documents do not exist,” so it seems that if any communications about this investigation were likely done over the phone, rather than email, and the ministers were not sent copies of the referral.

We’re sure there are quite a few FOI requests in on this matter, so there will probably be a few trickling out over the next few weeks as the deadline to respond draws closer.

Signed, sealed, delivered. A tipster in Canberra’s parliamentary triangle returned to his car yesterday to find a flyer from the Secular Party of Australia on the windscreen, which has so many differently sized fonts we’re struggling to get any one message from it:

secular party flyer

In a post on Facebook, DJ Dan Murphy says that voters in Sydney this week have received the following anti same-sex marriage pamphlet saying that a vote for the Labor Party would be a vote for “radical gay sex education for your children”. The message is also repeated in Greek. It’s authorised by David van Gend of the Australian Marriage Forum.

marriage flyer

Run the world. In case you haven’t had enough of the election, you now have the chance to hang out with Chloe Shorten. Yes, the ALP is running a competition to meet Bill Shorten’s wife, labelled his “secret weapon” by some pundits. There’s a catch, though — you have to donate to the campaign and then “tell us in a few words why you’re voting Labor. The best entry will be judged by Chloe and will win a backstage pass for the 2016 launch.”

“We’ll provide the transportation for your VIP experience as Labor launches our campaign. You’ll get to meet Chloe backstage, and who knows what other famous guests you could bump into.”

So why is time with the Labor leader’s wife the prize? Would no one donate for time with Bill?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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