Nominees shift award odds

The head of the judging panel picking The Bug’s Australian of the Year admits recent manoeuvres by two of the nation’s most controversial political figures may see one of them – or both – take out the award to be announced on Australia Day.

Chief judge, The Bug’s investment and financial advice columnist Morrie Bezzle, said statements by North Queensland LNP MP George Christensen and businessman and former Queensland federal MP, Clive Palmer, had improved their chances of taking out the award.

“These two big blokes know how to play the game,” Mr Bezzle told reporters after his latest court appearance in Brisbane.

“George’s latest anti-vaccine statements and Clive’s announcement that he will head his own party’s Senate ticket for the 2022 federal election will no doubt factor in the judging panel’s discussions in coming days.

“I’d say both of these colourful big blokes could well be neck and neck in the award race right now, that’s if either of them actually had a neck.

“Of course Clive is a previous winner of The Bug’s Australian of the Year so a second win for him would boost his chances at the coming election.

“Which is probably why he sent me some, shall we say, supporting material for his award nomination immediately after he announced his Senate bid yesterday.”

Mr Bezzle refused to divulge the material he claimed he had been given by Mr Palmer apart from admitting it would “come in handy” in paying his legal bills.

When questioned Mr Bezzle also admitted to receiving “supporting material” from Mr Christensen for the rogue MP’s award nomination. But he again refused to give details.

“Let’s just say someone claiming to be Big George rang and told me he’d be having an envelope couriered to me and that I would find its contents very relevant to his chances of being named Australian of the Year,” Mr Bezzle said.

“The courier duly turned up and while I was expecting a manilla envelope I was quite surprised to be handed a Manila envelope.

“Let’s just also say that its contents will come in handy and will also improve the odds of George taking out the award, especially once I share it around the judging panel who might very well find the offer of free entry to, and heavily discounted services inside, a number of lady-boy clubs in and near the Philippines capital of some interest.”

Mr Bezzle made his remarks outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court where he had pleaded not guilty to charges relating to his alleged involvement in the marketing of “anti-COVID pills” which police have alleged were nothing more than crudely relabelled packets of Tic Tac breath mints.