Former Nationals MP Andrew Broad (Image: AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Honey (do-do do-do doo dooo), oh sugar sugar…

As more and more suspect pre-election grants come to light, it’s interesting to see the butterfly effect at play. The delicate wing-flap of a dating website can manifest itself as a $2.5 million regional airport upgrade a scant few months later. 

The people of the Division of Mallee have done exceptionally well from the extracurricular activities of their former Nationals MP Andrew Broad. 

You might recall that Broad declined to run again in the 2019 election after New Idea ran a story on an extramarital date he went on, arranged through a “sugar baby” site.

This is a site where young women are paid money in return for paying attention to the sorts of men who compare themselves to James Bond on the basis that they have two phones.

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While Mallee was previously considered a safe seat for the Nationals, there were clearly concerns that it might need to be sandbagged in the wake of the scandal.

Mallee mopped up more than $1 million from Bridget McKenzie’s pre-election departmental largesse — including $500,000 for an already-rejected project. Four media grants from Mitch Fifield’s office went to regional papers in the seat. (Crikey also successfully applied for grants through the program.) And the Cohuna Airport won itself a $2.57 million infrastructure grant, in part to accommodate more cadet pilots to train there — cadets which, according to journalists Jommy Tee and Ronni Salt, don’t appear to exist.

Then there was a cool million in drought assistance given to the Mildura District Council, announced the month before the election. The same amount went to Gannawarra, Yarriambiack and Swan Hill councils, some of whom merrily told the Bendigo Advertiser that they had been surprised since they hadn’t actually applied for anything.

The lesson here is clear: any MP with their constituents’ interests at heart should immediately join a dating site. It’s the peccadillo-led recovery regional Australia needs!

Naval gazing

Naval Group, the French company behind the SA submarine contract which would bring jobs to Port Adelaide and make everything in the state perfect forever, has quietly admitted to the Senate that the amount of sub work actually happening in Australia will be less than expected.

It will be more like 60% rather than the 90% promised when the government committed $50 billion for them to construct our next generation spaceships of the ocean (in the immortal words of then-senator John Madigan).

The company also confirmed that it’s signed three contracts so far with suppliers, all of which are overseas. So that commitment to a local build currently seems… let’s go with “ambiguous”.

On the plus side, it looks like the 12 submarines will also be far, far more expensive than originally budgeted, with the budget now blown out to $80 billion by the time we get them in 2054. So… um, yay? 

Nickel meets dimes

Much of the conservative hatred of renewable energy is supposedly because of its devastating effect on the mining industry, so it must be awfully embarrassing to learn that Oz Minerals’ new billion-dollar nickel mine will be almost entirely powered by wind, solar and battery storage.

See? We can all still be friends after all!

The reasons are economic — it turns out that renewables are loads cheaper than running a gas line out to the site. Rio Tinto and Fortescue have announced similar, although smaller, projects with renewables.

Spare a thought for those poor climate denialists about to be forced to take issue with their beloved mining industry.

Et tu, Gina?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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