Now we can reveal Labor has been forced to pulp how-to-vote cards in Goldstein, the blue-ribbon electorate in Melbourne held by Liberal MP Tim Wilson, after originally preferencing no less than the convener of Melbourne’s David Icke Club, John Tiger Casley, above Wilson and Clive Palmer’s candidate.
A Labor flack told us Casley would now be put last.
For what it’s worth Casley tells us he is definitely not some sort of fringe dweller and says Icke isn’t either.
“My dear chap, [Icke] goes around the world … he’s been to Australia 10 times and he’s had his theatres absolutely packed out … of course the media is against it because the media is on the side of the American terrorists,” he told us.
Labor successfully campaigned to ban Icke from Australia as recently as earlier this year, making the saga even more bizarre.
Mal hits the Big Apple
The American Australian Association’s close ties with the Murdochs and their News Corp media empire is not in dispute: consider the New York-based organisation’s establishment by family patriarch Keith to last year’s major gala event in honour of his son Rupert.
On Thursday, AAA president and former US ambassador John Berry hosted the annual ANZAC Day lunch at Wall Street institution Cipriani with former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull as speaker.
The RSVP list was packed with heavy hitters including BHP’s public policy boss Tony Cudmore, JP Morgan executive Jennifer Nason, Bain Capital co-managing partner Jonathan Lavine and Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gillian Bird.
But Murdoch did not attend.
His relationship with Turnbull soured in the days before the former Wentworth MP was ousted in favour of Scott Morrison.
The ex-PM and many of his closest supporters believe a concerted push from News Corp Australia helped facilitate the coup.
That belief was, in part, fuelled by reports (disputed by News Corp) that Seven West Media boss Kerry Stokes warned Turnbull in the days before the spill that Murdoch was after him.
Murdoch’s non-attendance could be explained by a busy schedule, but News Corp was also missing from the AAA lunch’s sponsors list despite being a key backer in 2018 and for many other events.
Was it a deliberate snub?
Some AAA types say it most definitely was.
Berry, however, assured us this was not the case and that he “did not actively solicit their support for this year’s Anzac Day luncheon” because of their previous generosity.
But an early warning for News Corp’s cost-conscious chiefs: Berry’s got another AAA gala to organise this October and he’s promising to come around again with the coin jar in just weeks.
Doug Ritchie rides again
Doug Ritchie, the one-time Rio Tinto Energy boss, has had a tough time since being evicted from the mining giant along with former chief executive Tom Albanese after blowing $US3.3 billion on a failed coal project in Mozambique five years ago.
Last year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission said it planned to depose Ritchie as part of an investigation into an allegedly unlawful delay in writing down the disastrous Africa foray.
But there was some good news late last week.
With Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine inching forward after Environment Minister Melissa Price gave the green light to the project’s groundwater management plans earlier this month, the Indian giant has decided to bulk up the board of its local operations.
Ritchie has become the company’s newest director.
Reading the ABC MD tea leaves
It’s been seven months since the ABC board sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie.
With no announcement yet of a replacement the bookie’s favourite remains acting boss David Anderson.
Another left-field candidate who has become the subject of much speculation in recent days is former Age editor Paul Ramadge.
When we rang yesterday, he told us he couldn’t talk because he was in a long meeting.
Samantha Hutchinson is on leave.
Kylar Loussikian is The Sydney Morning Herald’s CBD columnist.