From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Still waters run deep. The battle for New England is getting down and dirty, with independent candidate Tony Windsor calling his lawyers over an article in today’s Australian alleging that he was a bully who whipped his younger classmates when he was in high school, almost 50 years ago. Windsor has also called for the Nationals to take down an advertisement that compares his relationship with the people of New England to a “cheating” spouse.

Nationals member for New England and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s new ad, in which he implies that his rival Tony Windsor has been “cheating” on the electorate of New England, for preferring Gillard over Abbott, has been called many things over the past few days — hilarious, outrageous, audacious. Crikey would prefer to say it has chutzpah. Windsor expressed his anger in a strange tweet on Sunday night.

Tony Windsor tweet

What does he mean by that last line? We hear from the people of New England that Barnaby Joyce has once more cast himself upon the waters of dirty campaigning.

Irish eyes are filing (for residency). We hear from a tipster on the Emerald Isle that there has already been a measurable impact from last week’s Brexit vote — the number of applications for Irish passports has skyrocketed. Many Brits have at least one Irish parent (and everyone born in Northern Ireland has the right to Irish citizenship if they want it), but while the UK was part of the European Union, there was no need to bother getting Irish citizenship. But with the UK departing, many of those who wish to remain in Europe are applying at a rate of knots to take up the Irish option. The spike has been so pronounced that the Irish government has run out of applications — and blank passports. Irish pollies have pleaded with the British imports to hold off on applying until the small nation can get a handle on demand (and those who need passports urgently will be able to get them). How fitting that 100 years after the Easter Rising, the Brits are invading Ireland yet again.

The ass end of the campaign. The donkey vote factor could come into play this year, with academics writing that intentional informal voting is on the rise with the disaffected youth. This morning in Melbourne there was a different type of donkey vote. Given the choice between the Shorten pile of carrots and the Turnbull pile of carrots, Willow the donkey has voted for Bill Shorten to lead the country after July 2.

Donkey Vote 1

Even though Malcolm Turnbull is the punters’ favourite to win the election at $1.10 to Shorten’s $7, Willow had other ideas, choosing the Labor leader. In true form of donkey votes, Willow seemed disinterested in politics and quickly changed her mind when she saw a similar pile of carrots offered by Turnbull. Maybe she was just looking to see if there were Greens on the table. The stunt, set up by an online betting company, just makes us miss Paul the psychic octopus.

Nats buy up Oakeshott websites. Yesterday Ms Tips confirmed that the RobOakeshott.com website hosting penis pump offers had deflated, but we’ve now heard that two other Rob Oakeshott-related websites, RobOakeshott.com.au and RobOakeshott.net.au, were recently bought — by the Nationals.

It’s not clear whether the party will use them for similar erectile-related marketing purposes, but the two sites are not being used, so it appears the Nationals made a strategic purchase to squat on the domains until after the election. Oakeshott wasn’t happy about it, telling Crikey’s Josh Taylor that the party might prepare attack ads on those sites:

“What on Earth are they doing in that space? It’s pretty low-brow. How low are these guys willing to go?”

There is a process Oakeshott could go through with the AU domain administration body to get his sites back, but the upfront fee would be at least $2000, and well, with just four sleeps until the election, it’s probably not worth it at this point.

Dio Wang addresses his fans. Remember Dio Wang? The only one of Clive Palmer’s elected senators to stick with the disgraced businessman is running for re-election in Western Australia but hasn’t courted the headlines as much as his former PUP friends Jacqui Lambie or Glenn Lazarus. Even though his chances of getting back to Canberra as an elected official are next to nothing, Dio Wang is promising Western Australians that he will get the state a bigger slice of the GST pie, the ability to access your super to buy a house, and to start a federal corruption watchdog.

Dio Wang letter

Word salad. When Malcolm Turnbull ascended to the prime ministership, he promised that he wouldn’t treat Australians like chumps, bringing the tone of political debate up to an intelligent level. But within just a few months of PM Turnbull, Australians were having “jobs and growth” nightmares, with yet another three-word slogan war. Now a tipster tells us that the slogans aren’t even a phrase any more, just single words. This sign was spotted at a pre-poll centre in Burt in Western Australia, with the Liberals’ pitch reduced to “Stick to the plan. Stability. Jobs. Growth.” and the Labor opposition to “Avoid more bills. Debt. Taxes. Chaos.” We feel smarter already.

Liberals anti slogans

Discounted journalism. For quite a while Crikey has followed different deals that newspapers have done — giving away freebies at airports, schools and universities, in a bid to measure just how accurate the declared circulation figures for our daily newspapers are. We’ve also had reports from around the country of newspapers given away for free at petrol stations, and now this, from Healesville in Victoria: half-price papers when you spend more than $30 on groceries.

newspaper deals

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

Peter Fray

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