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CBD Melbourne: Experts in soft diplomacy

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

This year, according to the memo circulating among the Parliamentary spouses yesterday, the Canberra cultural program will kick off at the Timor-Leste Embassy at the invitation of the ambassador’s wife, Ana Guterres and “celebrated Timorese chef Ze”.

Still, if there’s one Canberra club more secretive and – dare we say it, exciting – than the PPA, it would have to be the one headed by Guterres.

She’s the head of the diplomatic spouses association.

MIDAS TOUCH MISSING

Amid the departure of UBS boss Matthew Grounds and the capitulation of Deutsche Bank’s local division to Christian Sewings minimalist agenda, it was easy to overlook an interesting play from another big name M&A rainmaker: KPMG managing director Jon Adgemis.

Readers could say interesting because it’s one of the few black-and-white examples of when Adgemis’ famed Midas touch was anything but that.

It’s the curious case of Adgemis unloading $2.06 million of SkyFii shares at 16.5c each (to his pal Alex Waislitz) while simultaneously buying $4.96 million shares at 20c each.

SkyFii, for those who haven’t kept up with the small-cap space, is a data firm which helps venues from shopping centres to the Sydney Cricket Ground analyse customer information.

Adgemis is not only a major shareholder but he is also on the board.

But, as SkyFii explained to the ASX earlier this week, Adgemis agreed to purchase shares from another director, Kentucky investor Lincoln Brown, who had “expressed a strong desire to dispose of … shareholding as soon as practicable”.

No doubt Adgemis reckons SkyFii shares will be worth well above 20c in the future.

Given his track record, we’d not be surprised.

A FLYING VISIT

Who made some time to drop in to see Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton yesterday, just days after The Age revealed the Australian Federal Police had requested Qantas provide them with information about flight bookings made by ABC journalist Dan Oakes?

It was only the airline’s new government and public affairs chief Liam Brennan.

Apparently Brennan, the chief of staff to former attorney-general George Brandis, was not there to talk about police matters, but simply to discuss regional transportation.

Also spotted yesterday, this time at the Commonwealth Parliament Offices at 1 Bligh Street in Sydney: ex PM Tony Abbott shooting the breeze over a cuppa with NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet.

PICKING A FAVOURITE

There’s nothing quite like a long list of candidates ahead of a preselection to drive fear into the heart of a political powerbroker.

And so it comes as no surprise to hear that there’s been some heavyweights weighing in on a Caulfield Cup-sized list of hopefuls lining up for a shot at outgoing Senator Mitch Fifield’s upper house slot.

Former Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson has emerged as an early front runner, and was quick to pick up the backing of powerful former president Michael Kroger.

But she’s picked up a more significant advocate since.

The state’s most senior Liberal and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is now on board Team Henderson, and is also urging federal MPs and the rest of the state’s party to lock in behind her, in a bid to avoid what could be a messy race.

Also on board for Team Hendo are federal Liberals including Michael Sukkar, Greg Hunt, Alan Tudge, Jason Wood and Tony Smith.

Party veteran, one-time soldier turned full-time farmer Greg Mirabella has graduated from a maybe to a definite starter.

He is married to former Abbott government frontbencher Sophie Mirabella.

There is substantial support for Frydenberg’s former adviser turned Business Council of Australia head of policy Jess Wilson. And while Wilson’s not prepared to comment, others say she’s likely had encouragement from Frydenberg to sit this race out because there will be other opportunities to come. In other words, don’t splinter the vote.

Former state upper house member Josh Morris is considering a tilt for the slot, as is lawyer and former official Karina Okotel. Former shadow attorney-general and Hawthorn MP John Pesutto has also considered entering the race, but his interest is understood to have cooled.

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