Tuesday 9th of August 2022

down & dirty nationals style .....

down & dirty nationals style .....

from Crikey .....

Port Paper company collapses after Oakeshott cries foul

Crikey senior journalist Andrew Crook writes:


The holding company of a purportedly "independent newspaper" set up by National Party staffers to secretly attack Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott under the cover of journalistic impartiality has collapsed.

An administration notice for the notorious Port Paper's parent company, Australian News & Media, was published in The Australian's company notices section this morning, however its significance appears to have eluded the national broadsheet's news editors.

The Port Paper's homepage is now blank, with the paper's individual stories attacking Oakeshott stating instead that the site "is currently undergoing redevelopment".

One notorious yarn penned by the paper's editor Sharon Davidson -- a very recent staffer of the Nationals' Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker -- that claimed Oakeshott was unpopular based on flawed polling has vanished. As Crikey explained last month, the polling was picked up by The Daily Telegraph and run as a straight news item under the headline 'Poll shocker for MP Rob Oakeshott as support plunges'.

Davidson was recently in the news after it was revealed she was hired to work as a spin doctor for disgraced north coast state MP Steve Cansdell shortly before the state election.

Oakeshott has filed two complaints to the Australian Press Council over the paper's coverage and has also made a submission to the feared NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. A separate investigation is being conducted by the NSW Electoral Commission.

Crikey understands that after The Australian ran a story last month reporting that Oakeshott has referred the paper to the authorities, most of its advertisers headed for the hills.

Administrator Domenic Calabretta from Hall Chadwick confirmed late this morning that had the paper had folded and wouldn't be resurrected. He said he was attempting to flog off the masthead but that "it doesn't seem that there's much interest in the paper."

Calabretta, who blamed soft retail demand for the closure, said he was also trying to offload a monthly lifestyle magazine also owned by Australian News & Media. The company's sole director is former police officer Paul Loughlin, a close family friend of founding Port Paper editor and sole shareholder Rob Nardella -- a former Port Macquarie councillor who now works for NSW Nationals deputy premier Andrew Stoner.

A meeting of creditors will be held next Friday at Hall Chadwick's Sydney offices.

As Crikey reported in August, The Port Paper was established by former Mark Vaille staffer Nardella in March. Nardella, a member of Mr Stoner's campaign team in the lead-up to the March state election, registered the domain name portpaper.com on February 9, 2011 and actively sought advertisements for his publication.

Records show that AN&M was originally registered on December 14 last year by the National Party's Lyne Electorate Council chairman, Noel Atkins.

Mark Vaile was Oakeshott's predecessor in Lyne before his resignation in July 2008. Following Oakeshott's victory at the resulting byelection, a cabal of National Party figures have battled to reclaim control of the electorate that they argue is rightfully theirs.


the games begin .....

Mark Vaile, the former deputy prime minister, will come out of political retirement to help Andrew Stoner get to Canberra if the NSW Deputy Premier decides to move to federal politics.

Mr Stoner is being urged by National Party colleagues to run against Rob Oakeshott in the federal seat of Lyne at the next election, with the offer to back him in as deputy to Tony Abbott in a Coalition government.

''If Andrew ran, I'd put my hand up to be his campaign director,'' Mr Vaile told The Sun-Herald yesterday.

It was Mr Vaile's resignation from Parliament that brought on the 2008 Lyne byelection, won by Mr Oakeshott.

Mr Vaile said Mr Stoner would have a ''really good shot'' at replacing Warren Truss as Nationals leader.

''Andrew, along with a few others, will be the backbone of the NSW government and that experience of working in a coalition would be invaluable to Tony Abbott,'' he said.

Mr Vaile also took a swipe at Senator Barnaby Joyce - who is looking to move to the lower house, possibly by way of running against the independent Tony Windsor in New England - saying he should ''stay in Queensland''.

The NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, said Mr Stoner would win Lyne if he chose to run. ''But I need him here,'' he said.

Mr Stoner has ruled nothing out. ''He is focused on delivering for NSW with Mr O'Farrell but appreciates the need for a strong field in Lyne in order to defeat Rob Oakeshott and the federal Labor government,'' a spokeswoman said.

Vaile vows to lead Stoner crusade into Canberra