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CBD Melbourne: Pyne back in the Canberra picture

Christopher Pyne's presence is once again being felt in Canberra. Illustration: Joe Benke

Christopher Pyne’s presence is once again being felt in Canberra. Illustration: Joe BenkeCredit:

“I have been contacted by a fellow named Cristian from Pyne and Partners (Christopher Pyne’s company) asking for the names of everyone on the SAFBEET backbench committee,” Young wrote.

“I have spoken to the chair and he suggested that if you wish to supply your name to them that is for you to decide not us. Anyone wishing to do so can email their details … I will advise them of this decision.”

Admittedly, it’s an unorthodox move for a consultancy regarded as well connected. But then again, all new businesses have to start somewhere.

PAVING THE WAY

Senior Andrews government minister Marlene Kairouz ended the long wait at 9.51am on Tuesday when she resigned from her frontbench post. The Labor veteran’s departure represented the third in less than 24-hours, following an investigation by The Age and 60 Minutes that revealed branch stacking and other allegations of corruption inside the most senior ranks of Victorian Labor.

For her part, Kairouz denies any wrongdoing. “I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name and am confident any investigative process will do so,” she said in a parting statement.

Kairouz’s resignation was largely expected, but the wait was surprising. After all, former local government minister Adem Somyurek had been sacked from his post by 10am on Monday. And it took hours – rather than a day – for Kairouz’s colleague Robin Scott to resign from the frontbench, after being named in the investigation. Scott is reportedly very confident his name will be cleared, and resigned to avoid stress for his family and the government.

But sources within the cabinet have indicated Scott’s swift departure was in fact expedited by an embarrassing blunder made in the reshuffle announced on Monday morning.

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Just as Andrews announced he had sacked Somyurek, he also announced that he had promoted the well-regarded Essendon MP Danny Pearson into the ministry, with responsibilities for small business and local government. Problem was, Pearson is from the lower house and Labor is already over-represented in the cabinet by lower house MPs. In other words, Pearson would have been barred by the Victorian Parliament’s constitution from taking the position.

But soon enough, Scott announced his departure, subsequently freeing up a space for Pearson. Sources say the two moves aren’t a coincidence and that senior cabinet figures leaned on Scott to speed up his departure in order to prevent another embarrassment for the government. Scott, apparently, was gracious in departing – a small deed for colleagues that didn’t go unnoticed.

ULTIMATE VICTORY LAP

There are at least two statues of Ted Whitten in the west, but there is not much risk of either being toppled. Though Whitten was of his time – as Mr Football, he would tease Ron Barassi that he was merely Mrs Football – he is too fondly remembered for that.

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This day 25 years ago, Whitten bade farewell to footy in an emotional lap of honour before a Victoria-South Australia State of Origin match at the MCG.

State footy was Whitten’s great vocation; to him it was the finals footy he too rarely played in a record-breaking Footscray career.

Riddled with prostate cancer and nearly blind, but proud still in his “Big V” blazer, he nestled against his son Ted jnr while he gestured thanks to a crowd of more than 64,000 who had braved a rainy afternoon and every now and then mouthed his famous catchcry: “Stick it up ’em.”

Brownlow medallists Bob Skilton and Peter Bedford bit their lips as they watched, and at the players’ race, his long-time South Australian counterpart Neil “Knuckles” Kerley was waiting with a big hug. Poignantly to watch now, the late Danny Frawley fought back tears as he introduced Whitten to the Victorian players in the rooms. Victoria would win handsomely that afternoon.

Whitten died two months later, aged just 62. State of Origin footy, superseded by the national competition, petered out four years later. But in an AFL poll conducted in 1995, Whitten’s farewell flourish was voted the greatest moment in the game’s history.

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