Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie.

From the Crikey grapevine, it’s the latest tips and rumours …

Indi will always love you. So after months of speculation, Nationals senator and deputy leader Bridget McKenzie finally ruled out shifting to the lower house to compete for the seat of Indi — reputedly, her state and federal colleagues are furious that she allowed the speculation to go on so long.

A tipster got in contact to remind us of a few reasons McKenzie may have been reluctant to throw her hat into the ring as the woman to replace retiring independent Cathy McGowan:

McKenzie will also be shying away from Indi because next week the local state MP, Tim McCurdy — who managed to get re-elected while on bail — goes back to court to defend long-running fraud charges. The Nats glossed over this during the recent Victorian election but to put these charges into perspective, McCurdy is being charged with stealing just as much as the ALP rorts-for-votes Red Shirts mob did. It won’t look good for McKenzie to be seen trotting around with McCurdy on the campaign trail. But then again the voters didn’t seem to mind McCurdy’s fraud charges, so who knows?’

Now that McKenzie won’t run, will the Nats return to Marty Corboy? Back to our tipster: “You’ll recall he’s the coal fan who said that people were rapt to have a bloke (ie him) to vote for last election. In a public debate, he suggested businesses should be allowed to not serve gay married people.”

This year will mark the first election since 2001, that Sophie Mirabella won’t contest for the Liberal party in Indi. In replacing their high profile female candidate, they had an all-male line-up to choose from and, naturally, preselected Steve Martin, the bloke with two first names. All of this would appear to be good news for former midwife and health researcher Helen Haines, the independent who beat out — among others — McGowan’s sister Helen to gain the Voices for Indi endorsement.

The houses that Dan never built. Daniel Andrews might have won a colossal victory in November’s state election, but that doesn’t change just how awful his government has been. Back before the election campaign, Crikey pointed out, with plenty of supporting evidence, that Andrews and co were appalling on an issue that you’d think the self-professed “most progressive government in the country” would have led the way on: social housing. Indeed, the Andrews government was building about half the social housing that the Liberal government in NSW was building. At the time, readers thought it was an example of our anti-Labor bias (makes a change from the usual accusations, at least).

So, step forward the Productivity Commission, which yesterday released two tranches of its 2019 “Report on Government Services” including one on housing. And it shows things are even worse than we reported about the Andrews government, which has overseen falls in net recurrent spending on social housing every year since it was elected. And NSW net recurrent expenditure on social housing per person has been more than twice that of the Andrews government every year: in 2017-18, $173.35 compared to $82.94. So, at least in this instance, it seems Liberals really do do social housing better than Labor.

Driven to retraction. We’ve all had the odd auto-correct disaster, but usually the worst it does is cost one a Tinder date. So, Ms Tips couldn’t help but be amused by the following retraction, concerning The Australian journo and New Zealand’s favourite Australian Ean Higgins’ new book: 

My sincere apologies, the Trent Dalton quote is as follows ‘A staggering, meticulous and frequently spine-chilling work of longform journalism.’ The one I sent had a typo – ‘funny’ – an autocorrect mistake that was mine, not the publisher’s, nor the author’s.

The book is about the “baffling 2014 disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, with 239 souls on board. This is the extraordinary inside story of the mystery, cover-up and truth behind the tragedy …” So Ms Tips had been given pause when Dalton’s original assessment was “… a frequently funny spine-chilling work of longform journalism”.

Scomo no-go? In politics as in business, an old adage is “follow the money”. This week we have seen some of the canniest investors in Australia — who are also very well connected to the Liberal party in Victoria — reveal who they think will win the election. For ScoMo the news is all bad: the big end of Melbourne town and their billions of dollars reckon the ALP is a shoo-in. Three of the listed investment companies in the blue blooded Australian Foundation group (home of some of Victoria’s most senior members of the Liberal party supporters in business) decided to payout excess franking credits to shareholders to make sure they are not trapped by a Labor win which will happen before the end of the 2018-19 financial year.

The trio have declared special dividends on top of their interim payouts — AFIC will pay shareholders 8 cents a share on top of its normal interim dividend of 10 cents a share; Amcil will give investors a 1.5 cent special dividend. It also declared a 2 cent fully franked dividend, taking the total dividend to 3.5 cents, while Mirrabooka will pay a special dividend of 10 cents a share on top of the interim of 3.5 cents a share. Normally these investment companies would have waited until the end of the financial year to make special payouts, but they’ve decided the money is better being distributed to shareholders ahead of the poll. 

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