Andrew Landeryou first came to the attention of The Australian Financial Review as a defender of Solomon Lew, along with his MP mate Michael Danby (and a bunch of heavies from the Labor Right). Then the paper did a little puff piece on IQ Corporation.
Reality soon dawned. The IQ collapse, Landeryou’s scarper off overseas, the humiliation of his wife and all the legal argy-bargy involved (not to mention MUSU) got a great run. The ongoing saga continues to provide amusement for the readers of the nation’s business daily, along with reports of Landeryou’s current life “posting reams of borderline defamatory rants… with little more than the weak glow of a computer screen for company”.
November 20 1996
Gag was no joke as Lew debate rolled on
Neil Chenoweth and Andrew Main
Early on, it became clear that Coles Myer's chairman, Nobby Clark, was having difficulty keeping to the script.
"It's happening again; the prompt's got way ahead of me," Clark complained in despair halfway through yesterday's seven-hour annual meeting. But the prompt operator wasn't the only one tinkering with the story-line.
Much of the Coles Myer board believed there had been an agreement to give shareholders free rein for comment, with no stooges and no gag motions - which made it a bit of a puzzle when Michael Danby, a Victorian Labor stalwart and an ally of Solomon Lew, stood up and proposed a gag motion about an hour into discussing Lew's re-election.
Danby's move appeared to take Clark off balance - so much so that he waved through the motion on a rather dubious assessment of the voices, refused to take points of order, then claimed incorrectly that there had been a show of hands.
It was a massively unpopular decision, and doubly unfortunate because the queue of people who had been standing in line for an hour to discuss Lew continued their comments regardless with the next motion. And there were a lot of motions.
Lew wasn't without friends, one of them a young woman who identified herself as Sharon Alexander. This modest description did not actually convey that she is an employee of Beverley Pinder Public Relations, the PR shop that until recently worked on a retainer defending Lew against shareholder activist types.
Lew would have been warmed by the likes of former MP John Brown, who raged against character assassination by a "particularly mendacious media" on one of the finest human beings he knew. This also would have warmed Brown's NSW Right friend Michael Easson, who ran the "Re-elect Solly" ticket.
Links with the Labor Party (as opposed to Coles Myer employees, some of whom picketed the meeting) were a distinct feature of the pro-Lew camp. There was Kevin Boyd, of the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Union. And Andrew Landeryou, son of former Storeman and Packer secretary and Victorian Labor Minister Bill Landeryou, who besides supporting Lew launched an attack on CML director Nick Greiner.
Michael Davis, believed to be a Melbourne lawyer but thought by some to be Max Gillies having a lend, told the board graciously to ignore the whiners: "The small shareholders hate you because you are successful and they are not."
And a Mr Gonzales, whose view of events seemed at times remarkably close to the Lew camp's, blamed it all on the despicable media.
"Maybe they see Mr Lew as a threat to them: the Fairfaxes, the Murdochs are afraid he will take over their empire," he said brightly. Now that would really do something to his gearing.
"It's not known to management here today," Clark told several questioners who asked about an earlier claim that a court injunction had been taken out to stop a unionist shareholder from attending.
Clark's response seemed highly probable, but in the last year, those words have become almost a management mantra for Coles Myer - like a Latin verb declension: "Today I have no knowledge, last year I had no knowledge, next year I will have had no knowledge."
After yesterday's meeting, Coles Myer shareholders don't have any significant knowledge either, on some of the biggest problem areas for the company in the last year.
November 22 1996
Edited by Andrew Main
The jigsaw puzzle of identifying the few pro-Solomon Lew speakers at Tuesday's Coles Myer annual meeting has yielded more fascinating coincidences.
You may remember that Michael Easson, the former New South Wales right pollie, had been public in helping Lew with re-election.
Easson's old pal John Brown kicked off with a strong message of support, followed not long after by Sharon Alexander. She had told the AFR she was employed by Beverley Pinder Public Relations, which has done work for Lew, but Beverley Pinder rang to say they had parted company about three weeks ago. What we do know is that Sharon Alexander is the niece of Mary Easson, nee Alexander, Michael Easson's wife.
And what of Michael Davis, who was mistaken for Max Gillies? He changed his name from Michael Boggs, and who can blame him for that? He is involved in investment in Queensland ... and is an old friend of the Eassons.
For the record
Andrew Landeryou, the man who left Lew alone but questioned Nick Greiner's record something horrid, is a horse of a slightly different colour.
He is part of an Internet e-mail-based discussion group on Coles Myer in conjunction with one Gerry Pauley who has stopped giving investment advice on his web site after the Australian Securities Commission suggested he should first obtain a licence.
Landeryou's big moment came back in 1991 when a group of left-wing student types at the University of Melbourne ousted him as president of the student union after a dispute over alleged issues of mismanagement and overcrowding.
Landeryou, son of the former Storemen and Packers Union heavyweight and Cain Government minister Bill Landeryou, later told The Age newspaper the allegations were untrue, and that they had been made by "people from the ultra-left who are just tapping into a popular theme".
February 25 2000
Edited by Christine Lacy
Solly whacks down $4m for IQ Corp
Goodness gracious. An internet company that's actually making some money.
Melbourne-based online sports content group IQ Corporation has $8 million in the kitty after a fundraising, of which Melbourne businessman Solly Lew stumped up $4 million.
IQ, which is in the business of providing sports statistics, is understood to be actually trading in the black, unlike most other outfits in the sector.
A quick trawl of the ASIC database shows that a director of the Lew group's Century Plaza Investments, Michael McLeod, joined the IQ board last week.
IQ's managing director is Andrew Landeryou, who presumably is the same cove who spoke up in support of Lew during the action-packed marathon Coles Myer annual meeting of late 1996, where Lew survived moves to oust him from the board.
With $4 million spent from his very large war chest of $700 million-plus, there's still plenty of financial firepower in the Lew camp. Rumours abound about possible further moves into the traditional retail sector but there's apparently not much on the horizon in online retailing.
December 1 2003
Lew seeks funds from ex - friend for IQ deficit
Solomon Lew, the former Coles Myer chairman, has been fighting a bitter court battle to find out what happened to $4 million he pumped into an internet gambling start-up at the height of the frenzy for high-tech companies.
Mr Lew secured a victory last week when the Federal Court ordered the wind-up of IQ Corporation, which raised $8 million, half of which came from Mr Lew, in 2000 just ahead of the tech crash.
Mr Lew's lawyers said in their submissions that their client's money had disappeared and they wanted a liquidator to find out where it went and ascertain the state of the company's affairs: ``IQ's assets [including the $4 million invested in it by the applicant] have vanished.''
The liquidation is Mr Lew's second legal bid to get information from Andrew Landeryou, the 50 per cent owner of IQ. A longtime ALP activist, Mr Landeryou backed Mr Lew in some of his worst battles on the Coles Myer board in 1996.
Mr Lew earlier obtained a court order asking Mr Landeryou to hand over the IQ files, but Mr Landeryou claimed that they had been taken by the landlord when IQ was evicted from its offices.
``The financial records of IQ were, in part, retained by the landlord when IQ was evicted from its premises,'' he said in an affidavit lodged with the court.
Mr Landeryou, along with his wife and former IQ company secretary, Kimberley Kitching, left the IQ board in 2001, while his father Bill Landeryou, a former Cain government minister, is still a director, according to Australian Securities and Investments Commission records.
No one appeared on behalf of IQ or Mr Landeryou in court on Thursday. He did not return calls from The Australian Financial Review to him through his lawyers, Rigby Cooke.
Mr Landeryou was ordered to pay costs. Mr Lew's application was made through one of his companies, Jordanlane.
Mr Landeryou intervened in proceedings in October to oppose the wind-up order. He claimed that the company started by selling sports statistics on-line before moving into online gambling in Tasmania and the United Kingdom, where the company was believed to have opened an office.
Mr Landeryou said IQ's ``two major assets'' were the gaming licence he claimed IQ subsidiary Betworks secured from the Tasmanian government and ``tax losses of $8 million that IQ had accumulated over time and may be of some benefit for the future operation of IQ'', according to his affidavit lodged with the court.
Mr Landeryou claimed that the gaming licence, which he said had been granted by the Tasmanian Gaming Commission, would ``not continue if a liquidator of any nature is appointed to IQ''.
But in their submissions on November 26, Mr Lew's lawyers said Mr Landeryou had applied for IQ's gaming subsidiary, Betworks, to be deregistered in May.
Mr Lew's lawyers said in their submissions that no licence was ever granted.
The licence, allegedly granted to the now-deregistered Betworks, was non-transferable: ``IQ was not able to ensure or bring about the activation of the TGC gaming licence,'' they said.
March 24 2005
Lew targets adversary's home
Nicole Lindsay and Katherine Towers
Last year was a bad one for former City of Melbourne councillor Kimberley Kitching. This year has the potential to be much worse.
A scandal involving powerful businessman Solomon Lew brought her successful political career in Melbourne politics to a halt. And her husband, Andrew Landeryou, skipped town after a warrant was issued for his arrest over a property deal that brought down the Melbourne University Student Union.
Now, the 35-year-old is facing a courtroom duel with Mr Lew, an experienced litigator, and looks set to lose her million-dollar home in Melbourne's Parkville.
The stellar political career of Ms Kitching began to dim in 2003 when her and her husband's online betting venture, IQ Corp, was placed into liquidation by Mr Lew.
Mr Lew, through his private company Jordanlane, invested $4 million in IQ in 2000 just before the tech crash and, after its collapse, complained that his money had disappeared without trace.
"IQ's assets [including the $4 million invested in it by Mr Lew] have vanished," his lawyers told the court in a winding-up action.
According to documents filed in the Supreme Court, Ms Kitching, her husband Andrew, and father-in-law and former Cain government minister Bill Landeryou entered into an agreement with Mr Lew.
Ms Kitching agreed to buy all Jordanlane's 28,600 shares in IQ for $3 million $2 million to be paid by December 22, 2004, and instalments of $500,000 on September 1 in 2005 and 2006.
Her house was put up as security and, according to the documents, if Ms Kitching "failed to comply . . . the whole of the debt then outstanding would become immediately due and payable to Jordanlane together with interest on the outstanding sum".
Andrew Landeryou has yet to be served in the proceeding but his father has been ordered to pay $3 million, plus interest.
Ms Kitching failed to meet the December 22 deadline and a caveat was placed over the property, which was converted into a mortgage to Jordanlane.
Ms Kitching still lives in the house, but Mr Lew wants possession for sale.
That case against Ms Kitching has been adjourned until late April after her lawyers, Baker & McKenzie, withdrew last week citing a potential conflict of interest.
Ms Kitching, who sits on what has become a well-worn path for female politicians the Victorian board of the Young Women's Christian Association, was once touted as a potential mayor.
She withdrew from last year's council elections amid the scandal surrounding her husband's business dealings with Mr Lew and the separate furore over the $46 million collapse of the Melbourne University Students Union.
The union was also the scene of Mr Landeryou's first public dressing-down in 1991 when he was sacked after allegations of mismanagement.
Mr Landeryou is required to appear in a case involving the collapse of the union, which allegedly lost huge sums of money in deals involving student leaders and their Labor Party friends.
Ms Kitching, a lawyer, entered the local government scene in 1999. Mr Landeryou acted as her campaign manager and she finally won a spot at the 2001 election, quickly gaining leadership of Melbourne Council's arts committee.
She is described by colleagues as sharp and intelligent, but eyebrows were raised by associates over how seldom her husband accompanied her to council social functions.It is not known if he will be with her in court against Mr Lew.
April 20 2005
PacHydro: funds take a risk
Solomon Lew had reason to be happy as he drove away from Melbourne's Crown Casino in his Bentley yesterday, having won a court case giving him control of a $2 million-plus Parkville mansion to settle some liabilities with Andrew Landeryou, the estranged husband of Kimberley Kitching.
Sharing his good humour was former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission boss Allan Fels, who hitched a ride back to his Melbourne University office with the aforementioned Lew.
The two men had attended an Australia Israeli Chamber of Commerce lunch addressed by St George Bank boss Gail Kelly.
Her speech was on the importance of hiring and looking after people, customers and management, which she said was the secret of her success at the bank.
Fels couldn't resist the opportunity and asked Kelly the importance of scale in banking, to which the reply was along the lines that in her CBA days she thought size was crucial, but now realised it wasn't the key to banking success.
April 20 2005
Lew wins legal fight
Former Melbourne City councillor Kimberley Kitching lost her $2 million home in prestigious Parkville yesterday in the fallout from a legal fight with businessman Solomon Lew.
Mr Lew took possession of the double-storey mansion as part of a long-running dispute over a high-tech investment that went wrong.
The Victorian Supreme Court issued the order yesterday but stayed Mr Lew's moves to fully recover a $3 million debt from Ms Kitching because she had filed for bankruptcy last Friday.
Mr Lew's company, Jordanlane, invested $4 million in a high-tech start-up firm, IQ Corporation, founded by Ms Kitching's husband, Andrew Landeryou, in 1999. Ms Kitching was a director and company secretary of the company between 1999 and 2001.
After liquidation hearings last year, Ms Kitching agreed to buy Jordanlane's shares in IQ for $3 million, which was guaranteed by her husband and his father, Bill Landeryou, and secured by a second mortgage on her house. She has never paid the money.
The court also ordered Bill Landeryou to repay the money.
Ms Kitching has blamed her failure to pay and her bankrupt state on her husband, who has fled the country. A warrant has been issued for his arrest over his part in a property deal that brought down Melbourne University's Student Union.
It was revealed yesterday that Ms Kitching also owes the Bank of Adelaide $608,000 for the first mortgage on the house, plus smaller debts totalling $165,000. According to bankruptcy documents, she owes a further $42,000 for a BMW car, $5000 to Telstra for her mobile phone, $6000 in parking fines, council rates of $3600 and $35,000 to her father, William Kitching.
April 30 2005
Landeryou returns home to face liquidator
A Melbourne businessman who failed to appear at a liquidator's hearing into the multimillion-dollar collapse of Melbourne University's Student Union in 2003 has been arrested on his return from the United States.
Andrew Landeryou, son of former Cain government minister and union boss Bill Landeryou, told the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday he did not want a lawyer and was not seeking bail.
The sudden return of Mr Landeryou came as his wife and former Melbourne City councillor, Kimberley Kitching, filed for bankruptcy over a $3 million debt to retail magnate Solomon Lew.
On Friday, Bill Landeryou, a Labor Party heavyweight and state minister in the 1970s and 1980s, who with Andrew Landeryou was a guarantor to the mortgage over a Parkville residence, declined to comment on his son's predicament: "It would be inappropriate."
Andrew Landeryou was arrested on a warrant granted to the liquidator of MUSU, Dean McVeigh of Foremans Business Advisors, after missing the hearing in December and failing to produce documents about his dealings with student union contractor companies.
Mr McVeigh said he would seek to recover more than $2.6 million in misappropriated funds from a range of parties to contracting deals.
He has already passed on to the police details of a $1.2 million transaction involving the awarding of an on-campus bar lease via a company called Marbain.
In a short hearing, Justice Julie Dodds-Streeton asked Mr Landeryou if he had anything to say, and he replied that he had never been served with the warrants and only read about them in newspapers overseas.
Mr Landeryou said he had known from mid-2004 "that I was going to be called at some point".
He said he would be happy to attend "on whatever day is required".
May 7 2005
A businessman with juicy stories to tell
Old cronies should be worried about Andrew Landeryou's statements in and outside the court, writes Nicole Lindsay.
In a rambling weblog, compiled during his recent sojourn overseas, Andrew Landeryou claimed he would spill the beans on many of his old cronies if he ever got back to Australia.
"It's a fine thing about being thumped to a pulp, you can really start opening up a massive can of whup-ass," he wrote from Costa Rica.
Landeryou, who left the country abruptly last year, returned to Melbourne and this week faced a liquidator's hearing looking at his role in the collapse of the Melbourne University Student Union (MUSU). He is also under pressure because he owes magnate Solomon Lew millions for a failed computer business.
But Landeryou also knows how to fight back. There are some who are concerned about the "can of whup-ass" which the well-connected son of Cain government cabinet minister Bill Landeryou might try to open up as the court cases proceed.
Until his flight, the father and son team were active as behind-the-scenes powerbrokers. At a fund-raiser last year at the Collingwood Football Club, the younger Landeryou sat at a table with Senator Stephen Conroy, Australian Workers Union secretary Bill Shorten and Victorian Premier Steve Bracks' staffer, David Feeney.
Landeryou's blog, for example, trumpets his friendship with a former political comrade from the early MUSU days in the late 1980s and early 1990s, LookSmart dotcom millionaire Evan Thornley, who has his eyes on a federal seat.
Landeryou scoffed last week at any political fall-out from his travails but the left of Victorian Labor is hoping that some mud might stick to his friends on the right.
In any case, his story will be interesting to watch.
Landeryou was well known as president of the MUSU in 1991 but was forced out after a grassroots student movement made allegations of impropriety over leasing deals of union hospitality franchises.
A series of deals that Landeryou set into play in the late 1990s after returning from a trip to Russia have now landed him in hot water.
He went into business but he continued to do hospitality and property deals with MUSU, where several officials had been Landeryou mates.
MUSU Inc went under and the liquidator is now looking at a series of deals where Landeryou-related entities received a free lease on a bar at MUSU and also won a contract for student accommodation.
Within months, the lease on the bar was sold to a third party for $1.2 million. The 20-year student housing deal created a liability for MUSU potentially worth $46 million.
The court this week heard about how Landeryou handled the deals through companies called Marbain, Optima, Institutional Services and how they ultimately related to a series of other Landeryou shelf companies, Arrowhead Media, Avonwood and Zoe's Emporium. Money was transferred to Cyprus and Hong Kong.
But that is only one of Landeryou's problems. The other battle is with "Solly" Lew.Landeryou got Lew to invest $4 million into his IQ Corporation online gaming venture back in 1999 when Lew was starting his battle for control of the Coles Myer board and looking for political mates. But the friendship went sour when Landeryou failed to account for how the money was spent and Lew put IQ into liquidation in 2003.
In a settlement struck last year, Landeryou's wife and former Melbourne City councillor, Kimberley Kitching, who was IQ's company secretary, agreed to buy Lew's shares for $3 million, secured by the house and guaranteed by both Landeryous.
Kitching says she thought her husband had gone to Sydney to raise the $3 million when he disappeared overseas.
Lew now owns her $2 million Parkville mansion but the bankrupt Kitching is still there while Lew and his lawyers work out how they are going to dispose of the mansion.
Until last week, Landeryou was overseas five months in Costa Rica, Honduras and the United States working on a new online gaming venture despite a warrant out for his arrest in Melbourne.
His return was a surprise. In the witness box at the Supreme Court this week under examination over the collapsed student union, Landeryou was meek and mild, a picture of suffering who could barely remember some of his associates and their business dealings.
Landeryou told a hearing he had kept his name out of the companies doing the deals with MUSU because of his political aspirations.
But once out of the court, he marched down William Street, the heart of Melbourne's legal district, and bailed up the receptionist at Shetzer Brott Appel, the lawyers for Lew. "I'm all pumped up," he said outside on the street.
And Landeryou is still venting his spleen on a weblog posting reams of borderline defamatory rants every few hours.
"Read the truth on my blog," he said on Thursday.
Key players in the Melbourne University Student Union upheaval
Aspiring politician and businessman who was arrested last week after five months in Latin America.
Liquidators are looking at his role in the $40 million-plus deal he struck with the Melbourne University Student Union.
LookSmart millionaire, who got his start in student politics in the early 1990s at Melbourne Uni at same time as Landeryou. His political aspirations could be spoilt by Landeryou, who is threatening to spray all his former associates.
The abandoned wife of Landeryou and a former Melbourne City councillor. She lost the ownership of her Parkville mansion to businessman Solomon Lew because of her role in Landeryou's IQ Corp online gaming venture.
Lent Landeryou $4m for the online venture after getting Landeryou's public supportwhile fighting for control of Coles Myer in the early 90s. Has allowed Kitching to remain in the house.
May 25 2005
Liquidator's $4m writ on Landeryou
The liquidator of the Melbourne University Student Union has lodged writs in the Victorian Supreme Court demanding more than $4 million from Andrew Landeryou and a host of other executives and office bearers who worked at the union.
The move came a day before Mr Landeryou, a former MUSU president, was due back in the Supreme Court to answer questions about his business dealings with the union before its collapse in February last year under the weight of a $48 million property deal, allegedly orchestrated by Mr Landeryou.
A player in the Labor Right and a failed online gaming entrepreneur, Mr Landeryou is also liable for a $3 million debt to Melbourne businessman Solomon Lew, which cost his wife Kimberley Kitching, her Parkville home.
MUSU liquidator Dean McVeigh said he had lodged the writs in the court but was still trying to serve them on as many as eight people.
The Supreme Court has heard hours of evidence about the union's failure, including allegations of false names, forged signatures and mystery bank accounts.
Mr Landeryou said he had not yet been served with the writ but described the allegations as "bizarre and unsubstantiated".
"After two years and millions of dollars Dean McVeigh's shown his hand and he's got nothing," Mr Landeryou said. "It's a joke. I believe it will be laughed out of court."
Mr McVeigh is claiming $3.4 million from Mr Landeryou and other former MUSU presidents Ben Cass, Darren Ray and Scott Crawford, plus senior union employees Dean Sherriff and John Gunn, in damages over the alleged diversion of profit from the union bar and food outlets to Mr Landeryou and Mr Cass via a company called Marbain.
Mr McVeigh is also claiming $450,000-plus from Mr Cass, Mr Ray and former acting MUSU general-secretaries Peter Marczenko and Tim Lisle-Williams for the alleged overpayment of money triggered by the unlawful outsourcing of election functions to Global Tertiary Solutions.
May 26 2005
Landeryou in court drama
Former Melbourne University Student Union president Andrew Landeryou could face legal action for inaccurate reporting of court proceedings against him and three former uni colleagues on his internet "blog" site.
However, further questioning of the Melbourne businessman in the Victorian Supreme Court, and several other MUSU officials, may be delayed due to a "poorly timed" $4 million claim lodged by the MUSU liquidator.
Foreman insolvency partner Dean McVeigh sued Mr Landeryou, Ben Cass, Darren Ray, Scott Crawford, Dean Sherriff and John Gunn on Tuesday, seeking up to $4 million in damages over an alleged conspiracy in 2002 to improperly siphon funds from the union.
After reading an affidavit by Mr McVeigh yesterday afternoon, Master Evans said it appeared that Mr Landeryou "has somewhat distorted what took place here this morning", with the website referring to the liquidator's "publicity stunt writ".
"I used no such words. [This is] a very misleading impression of what took place here this morning and that too can have consequences in another place," the Master said.
Mr Landeryou and another former MUSU president Ben Cass were due to be examined over documents and transactions relating to the proceeds of a $1.2 million transaction from the sale of three student union cafe leases to a company, Marbain, in 2002.
Garry Bigmore QC, for the liquidator, said despite having lodged the claim to recover funds which travelled via accounts in Hong Kong and Cyprus, he intended to continue "fishing" in examinations for what ultimately happened to the funds after the so-called "Marbain" transaction.
June 8 2005
Edited by Angus Grigg
Lew auctions legal winnings
Solly Lew has not wasted any-time putting the Melbourne mansion he won in a legal battle with ALP operative Andrew Landeryou up for sale.
The auction signs went up yesterday and the 10-room house in the city's university precinct is expected to fetch $1.25 million. Lew took control of the property after investing $4 million in Landeryou's failed online gaming company, IQ Corporation, in 1999.
And Landeryou has other trouble brewing. He is facing a lawsuit from the liquidator of the Melbourne University Student Union over a series of financial deals that allegedly sent it broke last year.
March 6 2006
Edited by Andrew Main
Court case a big inspiration for Landeryou
An interested observer at the Federal Court in Melbourne last week was disgraced businessman and active blogger Andrew Landeryou.
He spent the entire day in court 9C furiously scribbling notes as, first, Commonwealth Games chief John Harnden and then Solomon Lew's son, Steven, were put under the griller by barrister Michael Lee.
Harnden and Lew both reluctantly gave evidence in the liquidator's examination into the winding up of Factory 5, the company that until the middle of last year held the Commonwealth Games venue merchandising concession.
Factory 5 collapsed after Melbourne 2006 terminated its concession following a dispute about money with Lew's Playcorp, which is the official Games apparel licensee.
Landeryou has his own issues with the Lew family, whom he blames for his downfall from high-flying dotcom entrepreneur with a Parkville mansion and budding politico wife to his current lonely status in a Southbank apartment with little more than the weak glow of a computer screen for company. So his blog on Friday took great delight in regaling the reader with a colourful description of Steven Lew's uncomfortable couple of hours on the stand.
October 2 2006
Election campaigns can be a hard blog
Victoria's formal election campaign might not start until the end of October but on the internet the battle is already raging as bloggers of all political persuasions try to win the hearts, minds and eyes of voters.
Sites such as Put Labor Last, The other cheek, Slanderyou, and the latest arrival, bracksed.com include a daily mix of commentary and reporting that ranges from the abusive to the sensational.
"While we may not directly reach large numbers of voters, [blogs] do provide an alternative to the mainstream media," said blogger John Quiggin, an economist at the University of Queensland.
Andrew Landeryou of The other cheek claims to "name the shameless and shame the nameless".
"I am not sure whether we can influence the result but we might influence some of the issues that might not otherwise come to public attention," he said.
Stephen Mayne, a share activist, whose jeffed.com website is credited with helping to unseat the previous Victorian premier, Jeff Kennett, said: "No blog will ever influence on its own unless what it reports is picked up by the mainstream media. That will be the challenge for blogging in Victoria."
In the United States, blogs are an increasingly powerful form of political commentary and fundraising.
The political potential was displayed earlier this year when former vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman was defeated in a Democratic primary for the seat he has held for almost 20 years by neophyte Ned Lamont, whose campaign was built around blogs.
In a recent speech at the University of Melbourne, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne claimed rising interest in blogs reflected public appetite for more debate and wider coverage of issues.
Senior media advisers for Victorian Premier Steve Bracks and Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu claim to rarely read the sites.
While they may not have a large following in the electorate, many blogs are read regularly by party members ready to be amused or outraged by the latest leaks or speculation about MPs or party officials.
September 20 2007
Edited by Andrew White
Lew's lackeys crash Landeryous' lunch
As John Fletcher and Ric Allert finished hostilities with the investment community, across town there was a craftily staged ambush on Lygon Street.
But unlike recent events on the popular Melbourne strip, this one didn't start with bullets and end in a bodybag. Businessman Andrew Landeryou was having a birthday lunch with his father, former Victorian state MP Bill Landeryou. As father and son were breaking bread, two agents working for former Coles executive chairman and major shareholder Solomon Lew burst in and, like a white-collar hit, served them with court papers.
Lew once claimed Andrew Landeryou owed him as much as $3 million following the collapse of a dotcom he invested in.
Lew is now chasing him through the bankruptcy courts and the latest papers demand correspondence between father and son.
The lunchtime whack left the Landeryous wondering how the agents found them; the lunch wasn't exactly advertised.