The Coalition might need to be a little careful about its absurd claim about Labor collusion with a foreign power over Barnaby Joyce (which had even the government's rusted-on cheerleaders at The Australian shaking their heads). This morning in the Senate, the government tried to censure Penny Wong on the issue, but bizarrely undertook it without checking if it had secured the support of the crossbenchers -- so the censure motion failed.

More problematic is that, when it comes to collusion with foreign political parties, the Coalition makes Labor look positively innocuous. Meet Michael Ashcroft, known to his friends as Lord Ashcroft, a Tory peer, longtime donor, businessman and tax exile -- who was Tory Treasurer from 1998-2001 and deputy chair of the Tory party from 2005-10. Just prior to the 2004 election, Ashcroft gave the Liberal party $1 million. In 2010 (while deputy chair), he gave $250,000 to the Liberals. And he gave the same amount in 2013. There's also the relatively minor matter of Republican operative and former Dubya ambassador to Australia Mel Sembler handing US$10,000 to the Liberals.