Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Thanks, cuz

The revolving door continues. Yesterday we reported on Mike Kelly’s decision, having quit parliament, to work for real life “evil corporation from a Bond film” Palantir, co-founded by Peter Thiel.

You may know Thiel as the politically active billionaire who shouted his support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid from his skyscraper rooftops. (Well, he did more than shout — he gave the campaign over a million dollars.)

You may also remember that Thiel co-founded Paypal, and that he was the man who financed the efforts to sue Gawker out of existence.

But did you know he’s a New Zealand citizen? In 2011 he was secretly granted citizenship. He wrote “It would give me great pride to let it be known that I am a New Zealand citizen” on his application, but ended being sufficiently humble about it that it didn’t become public until 2017. His citizenship followed a “whirlwind of lobbying, business deals and public relations”.

He had visited the country only a handful of times beforehand and has barely been back since, but he did use his new citizenship to more easily buy up a great deal of real estate. As Matt Nippert’s in-depth investigation for the New Zealand Herald puts it: “What remains are his boltholes in Queenstown and questions over whether political pressure played any part in his granting of citizenship.”

Anyway, I think we can all agree it’s great that Palantir has access to Mike Kelly’s political connections.

Jones: jumped or pushed?

Along with the sickening flurry of obsequious revisionism that allows airway poisoner Alan Jones to retire to his country estate — feted as a straight-talker with Australia’s best interests at heart — comes the attempt to come up with the definite idea of what actually led to his end.

Yesterday Zoe Samios at Nine noted that his retirement is an “out” for Nine, after a loss of advertising resulting from his latest attack on a female leader (in this case New Zealand’s PM, Jacinda Ardern). Crikey would add it’s also an out for the advertisers, spared the temptation to quietly return to funding Jones’ show after the heat died down.

Regardless, The Australian has complicated the narrative that Jones’ exit is a straight up retirement.

While Leo Shanahan and Steve Jackson’s report does note that Jones indicated to new boss Tom Malone that “he might want to leave earlier than the June 2021 expiry date of his most recent contract”, the chronology is clear. The doctor’s visit that Jones cited as his reason for stepping down came after another visit — from Malone, who made it clear he would have to go regardless.

One wonders if Jones will respond to this on Sky, or in his columns for News Corp stablemate The Daily Telegraph?

A coughing fit for the ages

Because we are currently living through the montage at the start of dystopian thriller, the sight of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hacking his lungs up while talking about (ahem) Australia’s COVID-19 recovery was more chilling than it would normally be.

It called to mind Iran’s deputy health minister telling everyone to remain calm about coronavirus while mopping buckets of fevered sweat from his brow, or Brazil’s far-right president turning up at an anti-lockdown protest and coughing his way through a speech.

Of course, the undisputed pinnacle of the cough-as-symbol-of-wider-chaos is Theresa May.

At the calamitous 2017 Conservative Party conference — while she was under increasing pressure from stalling Brexit negotiations, and being undermined by giant scarecrow baby Boris Johnson — she was handed an unemployment benefits form by a merry prankster and had her slogan literally fall apart behind her.

The fact that, throughout her speech she couldn’t manage to clear a catch in her throat — which only served to make her voice more dry and shaky — was somehow the best summary of her time as leader.

Taking out the trash

We’ve long been keeping an eye on the political moves (in government or elsewhere) that might well have caused a fair bit more push back had they come at less noisy times.

Here’s one: as Victoria eases restrictions and allows for “outdoor gatherings” we’ll see a slightly grisly resumption: shooters will once again be able to enter wetlands and hunt native ducks.

Duck hunting is banned in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia. But despite Victoria’s reputation as the intersectional peoples feelocracy, (and the fact that polls show the majority of Victorians oppose it) the hobby of shooting small birds in the face remains legal in Victoria.