Labor-candidate-for-Eden-Monaro-Kristy-McBain
Labor candidate for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

You’ve got mail

Bill Gibson is not a resident of the Eden-Monaro electorate, but maybe the scammer who sent him an email regarding the sinister secrets of Saturday’s byelection felt that alterna-rock bass heroes from bands like The Eastern Dark and The Lemonheads wield political influence unrestrained by electoral boundaries.

In any case Bill forwarded said email to your humble columnist, and oh what a trip it is.

It’s a word salad which claims that Labor’s candidate Kristy McBain is running a child abuse ring from her basement and brought the bushfires and coronavirus to the region as punishment from God for her crimes against George Pell — among other peculiar assertions seemingly cut and pasted from paranoid QAnon threads and given a regional Australian spin.

The email in question appears to be sent from [email protected] Needless to say, this is what’s called “spoofing” — using a different email address to mask a message’s true origin — and is not in any way an official message from the Catholic Church who, if nothing else, would probably choose someone with a competent grasp of spelling and grammar to write their comms.

In any case, the church issued a statement earlier in the month confirming these missives are absolutely not from them and that the information is fake. Which, to be fair, one could probably surmise from its offensively loopy content.

So yes, it’s obvious spam which most recipients would have plonked automatically into the trash without ever noticing.

Here’s where it gets weird, though: if you dig into the email’s source code it confirms that yes, that catholicaustralia address is false. But then you find the following in there:

Received: from newssharedspf.dailytelegraph.com.au

reply-to: [email protected]

After running this by an expert in the dark arts of email fraud it was confirmed that these addresses are also fake. In other words, someone went to the trouble of making a batshit crazy email under a fake Catholic Church address, and then faked the code to implicate the Tele and one of its most prominent voices for… um, reasons? Who are they trying to frame here?

In any case, maybe it’s worth clearing your spam folders a bit more often. Feels like necessary political hygiene right now.

Tenth time’s the charm

Chances are you’ve been spending the last few months replacing your existential terror about climate catastrophe with existential terror about COVID-19. The truth is you should probably find a way to balance both, since NSW Minister for Energy and “Environment” Matt Kean has rubber-stamped approval for Whitehaven’s tenth coal mine.

It’s the first mine approved since the coronavirus outbreak, and is widely opposed by residents, the Narrabri Shire Council and farmers who are concerned the mine will outbid them for water.

Callum Foote has gone into details at michaelwest.com.au, including laying out the political ties between Whitehaven and the Liberal and National Parties, their implausible claims of local jobs (especially in the face of investor presentations about plans to automate their operations) and their current legal battles with the Natural Resource Access Regulator over alleged illegal construction, all of which is definitely worth your attention.

What’s clear is that the company has paid close to zero tax over the last five years, which leads to the question “why do you need to dig more coal since apparently this mining lark is such a horrifically unprofitable exercise?”

Where in the world is Terry Stephens?

While its eastern neighbour goes into targeted lockdowns, South Australia is footloose and COVID-free (comparatively speaking), and thus able to spend time doing things like wondering where its MPs live — and, more specifically, if legislative council president Terry Stephens has been being tricksy with his travel and accommodation allowances.

Tezza has been collecting Country Members Allowances in recognition of the fact that he lives in the idyllic coastal town of Victor Harbor, about an hour’s drive south of Adelaide. However, he also owns a townhouse in Norwood, which is a rather more parliament-adjacent location in Adelaide’s leafy and monied inner east.

The problem is that it has come to light via the ABC that Terry has not paid any land tax on his million-plus Norwood pad, which would be perfectly reasonable under SA law if it had been claimed as his primary residence and not an investment property. But if the place is indeed his main digs, then why the hell did he pocket $60,534 between 2018 and now for the travel and accommodation expenses incurred from livin’ la Victor loca?

Stephens insists that everything’s above board and that he has lived in the Harbor since 2011. In any case, this matter is currently being investigated by the auditor-general and state taxation commissioner (at Stephens’ request) and he has announced that he welcomes the opportunity to clear up any confusion on the matter.

Fun fact: there are a bunch of SA locations with “harbor” spelled without a U — Victor Harbor, Outer Harbor, Franklin Harbor and so on — and no-one is entirely sure why. The State Library of SA says it’s a perfectly legitimate if somewhat archaic spelling and to please stop going on about it, but the City of Victor Harbor claims that it was because the surveyor general couldn’t spell — which seems a real slam on the legacy of George Woodroffe Goyder if you ask us.

Whether he also wrote loopy election-eve missives about candidates he didn’t like is not recorded.

Peter Fray

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