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

Claiming the Lyons share. Updating your web page can be a drag. Particularly when you’re a National Living Treasure. Eschewing any pretence of the humblebrag, the “Our Achievements” page of Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party offers up a lengthy list of 35 parliamentary “wins” since Clive was elected as the federal member for Fairfax in late 2013. The “pens instead of pencils” electoral reform gets a guernsey, while last but presumably not least is to have “Removed Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker”.

Voters scanning the page may, however, have other questions. For example, why does Clive Palmer still list himself as the federal member for Fairfax? Whatever else it comes to mark about Clive’s ultimate legacy, history will forever show that he was indeed elected as the member for Fairfax in 2013, pipping Liberal National candidate Ted O’Brien by a mere 53 votes. Yet history will also show O’Brien exacting vengeance at the 2016 poll, the good people of the Sunshine Coast sheepishly slinking back from their brief flirtation with the outspoken billionaire.

Another Clive list that troubles one of our readers appears on his party’s “Our Prime Ministers” page. Here we are reminded that Joseph Lyons, William (Billy) Hughes and Sir Robert Menzies were all UAP prime ministers, apparently. Little worry that the (original) UAP went the way of the (original) Titanic in 1945, disappearing beneath chilly political waves, subsumed by the newly formed Liberal Party of Australia. Clive’s 2013 “reformation” of the party has allowed him to claim the former PMs as his party’s own. So what does the Australian Electoral Commission think about all this?

An AEC spokesman points out its legislative remit in relation to electoral communication is limited to two areas: the requirement for authorisations, and a ban on misleading voters in direct relation to the act of casting a vote.

“A federal election is a contest of ideas, and electoral laws do not regulate the truth of electoral communications,” he said. “It’s important for voters to stop and consider what they see, hear or read and check the source of material.”

Last drinks for PM? Last week we brought you news of Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten wetting their whistles at Agfest while campaigning in Tasmania, both deciding their efforts on the hustings called for a hard-earned freshly poured beer. The man behind the taps noted that although Shorten stopped short of shouting a round, he at least stumped up for for his own drink, whereas Morrison did not.

A Crikey tipster has raised the prospect that ScoMo, a dedicated “man of the people”, was perhaps saving his loose change to put towards a $50 glass of his favourite glass of Tasmanian whiskey. Spying some quality Tasmanian single malts on the top shelf during a recent bar visit, our informant asked the barman for a little more detail. The barman obliged, taking down two bottles and noting “The Wolf Release” by Hobart distillery Lark — an eye-watering $50 a dram — was apparently “Scomo’s favourite”.

At $280 per 500ml bottle, the rare offering is not exactly the “daggy dad” tipple of choice. “Man of the people? Nothing wrong with liking expensive craft beer or whisky, but I don’t go around wearing trucker caps drinking XXXX at RSL clubs, pretending that’s what I like,” the barfly noted.

Lark’s tasting notes on The Wolf Release describe a “unique single malt whisky that reflects an adventurous and collaborative journey”. Morrison’s recent journey has certainly been adventurous, though most would splutter on their single malt at any suggestion it has been remotely collaborative. And let’s hope the description of the whiskey’s scent — evincing “a faraway grass fire” — isn’t in fact a May 18 omen.

Not quite good enough. While Clive Palmer’s record multimillion-dollar advertising splash has made the billionaire mining baron and his raised thumbs impossible to ignore, another hopeful who was never shy of a photo opportunity has apparently gone to ground. Rumour has it that Ian Goodenough, the Liberal member for Moore in Western Australia, is being kept well and truly under wraps by the WA Liberal Party. It has not gone unnoticed that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sidestepped Goodenough’s seat as he dashes around the country. Could it be anything to do with Goodenough landing in hot water over claims he used his MP status to promote lobster businesses with which he has financial links? 

Goodenough’s crustacean capers have been deemed “not a good look” and have, apparently, been frowned upon inside a party feeling the pinch. His status is unlikely to have improved when he publicly and embarrassingly contradicted WA Liberal poster-boy Andrew Hastie’s denials that the two had met with far-right extremist Neil Erikson at a 2018 Perth rally.

Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected], use our guaranteed anonymous form or other ways to leak to us securely.

Peter Fray

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