From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Qld politics gets nasty. Throwing stones in glass houses is usually not a good idea, and we proceed with caution, but couldn’t let this one pass without notice. A Twitter account, which claims to be the “Official account tweeting Queensland Opposition Media Statements”, had a go at Pauline Hanson’s One Nation for misspelling Burdekin as “Burdiken” in a press release. “Who wrote this — Bundamba MP @SteveDicksonMP? #qldpol #spellcheck”. The problem is, Dickson (until recently an LNP MP) is the member for Buderim, not Bundamba.

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No Panahi for Kroger. Yesterday we noted that Rita Panahi had not denied a report in the AFR that Michael Kroger had approached her to run for the Liberal Party at the next Victorian state election, but Panahi took to 3AW yesterday afternoon, saying the story was an “extraordinary piece of fiction” and “there’s just nothing there other than spite, bitterness and bile”. Well, she would know.

Peter Thiel’s a Kiwi. How did this happen? NZ media reports this morning that the libertarian (and Trump supporter) Peter Thiel, the man who financed the bankrupting of Gawker, is actually a New Zealand citizen and has been for at least five years:

“Facebook billionaire and Donald Trump donor Peter Thiel has gained New Zealand citizenship and purchased a 193-hectare lifestyle block in Wanaka. Thiel purchased the property just outside Wanaka through his company Second Star Limited in April 2015 for $13.5 million, according to property records.

“A spokeswoman for the Overseas Investment Office said the purchase did not need to follow rules for the sale of sensitive land to foreign buyers as Thiel was a New Zealand citizen. The Department of Internal affairs, which handles applications for citizenship, requires people to have lived in New Zealand for five years, for at least 240 days during each. Applicants must also speak English and be “of good character”, along with already having the right to be in New Zealand indefinitely. Those who do not meet the requirements may still be granted citizenship in special cases, including if the applicant could provide some advantage, or positive benefit to New Zealand.”

According to the Kiwi media reports this morning, there is no record of Thiel spending the requisite time in NZ in the past five or six years, so the citizenship was conferred on him by either a senior public servant or the government of former PM John Key.

In 2013, he bought $147 million of shares in NZX-listed technology company Xero. Kiwi businessman Chris Liddell was last week named as one of Trump’s White House assistants. He quit as chair of Xero to take the White House gig — now fancy that.

Empty seats. While Melburnians are trekking to the Australian Open in the thousands, a Crikey tipster wonders if perhaps a bit of work needs to be done in ticket pricing. These pictures were taken at Monday afternoon’s session, when eighth seed Dominic Thiem took on 11th seed David Goffin at Rod Laver Arena. Earlier in the session, Serena Williams had defeated Barbora Strycova. “If Tennis Australia were to reduce prices (around $300 for two seats) one assumes the stadium would have looked a lot more inviting for the world’s top players”. There were many empty seats on the top deck, and our tipster says it was only a little more well attended during Williams’ match. Of course it’s easier to argue tickets should be cheaper, but when there are so many spare seats it’s got a bit more merit than usual.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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