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CBD Melbourne: Savvy pick for SBS chair ticks all the boxes

And after the shock appointment of Ita Buttrose as ABC chairman last year, this was no prime ministerial captain’s pick but one of the few occasions the federal government was content to follow the recommendations of the independent nominations panel. Savvides, who scored an AM in the Australia Day honours, has been on the SBS board since 2017 and was acting in the role since the well-regarded Bulent Hass Delal, retired in June.

The appointment leaves one less hanging issue for SBS’s ebullient managing director James Taylor, who moved this week to quell criticism with some new inclusion policies. Taylor is half Italian, a fact he was forced to foreground to journalists at last year’s SBS programming showcase after comedian Joel Creasey told the assembled crowd that the boss was known around the corridors as “macaroni and cheese”.

CONSUMING PASSIONS

Our federal politicians have a natural propensity to caucus in small groups, whether it be Labor’s coal-loving Otis Group or conservative MP’s Monkey Pod. And now there is another niche interest group to add to the list.

Victorian Liberal senator and superannuation reform enthusiast Andrew Bragg, South Australian independent MP Rebekha Sharkie and Northern Territory ALP MP Luke Gosling have united to launch the Parliamentary Friends of Recreational Fishing group.

The somewhat unlikely triumvirate launched the organisation on Thursday, calling on all federal parliamentarians to join.

The objective? “To share their passion for recreational fishing, no matter their experience, and to interact with stakeholders engaged with these issues.” Trust a politician to reframe one of life’s simple pleasures as an opportunity “to interact with stakeholders engaged with these issues”.

Bragg fondly recalls growing up fishing for trout and redfin in Western Victoria. Closer to Canberra, he has fished in the NSW high country (electorate, Eden-Monaro) as well as Kangaroo Valley, to mixed results. “I caught a carp,” he said. “It was pretty disappointing.”

Sharkie honed her craft fishing off South Australia’s Victor Harbor. She’s keen on tuna, her spokeswoman told CBD.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Gosling really was walking the walk. The former army commando was beachside in the town of Dundee, about two hours’ drive west of Darwin, teaching his kids how to fish. Presumably the practice will come in handy with his colleagues.

PAY THE RENT

After the defection comes the war. The CFMMEU and other powerful trade unions have gone into battle against federal MPs Ged Kearney and Libby Coker after the pair’s spectacular defection from the Industrial Left alliance.

Several union heads, including CFMMEU construction boss John Setka, want Coker to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in Industrial Left union donations that helped to fund their successful federal election campaigns.

Ged Kearney, John Setka and Libby Coker.

Ged Kearney, John Setka and Libby Coker.Credit:John Shakespeare

A similar request will be made to Kearney in coming days, hardheads say.

The former ACTU boss, a captain’s pick by then-ALP leader Bill Shorten, entered federal parliament after a hard-fought byelection in 2018. She retained the seat, which has been renamed Cooper, at the 2019 federal election, helped by donations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from Industrial Left trade unions, including the CFMEU, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, the Transport Workers Union and the Plumbers Union.

Trades Hall sources said that the construction union alone provided close to 100 volunteers to work across Kearney’s campaign, as well as Coker’s successful tilt for the coastal electorate of Corangamite. Coker ended up snatching the seat from Liberal incumbent Sarah Henderson on a wafer-thin margin of just 0.7 per cent. Coker is yet to respond to the request, but CBD reckons her answer will be pretty obvious.

PUTTING HIS STAMP ON IT

It has been four months since a white puff of smoke issued from PwC headquarters at One International Towers, Barangaroo, announced the accountancy equivalent of a papal conclave had anointed Brisbane-based Tom Seymour to the top job.

In a firm with 70 partners – and amid a cost-cutting wave across the sector – it’s refreshing to see the newly appointed boss putting his stamp on the place and well, hiring.

In a first major appointment, Seymour has tapped Australian Banking Association media director Rory Grant to head corporate affairs. Grant will wrap up inside Anna Bligh HQ on Friday, ahead of starting the new role next month.

Grant, of course, arrived at the ABA after almost five years as a chief lieutenant to Liberal minister Christopher Pyne and, before that, stints with other senior Liberals, including Cities Minister Alan Tudge. The Sydney-based politico even scored a mention in Pyne’s newly released memoir, The Insider, regarding Pyne’s now-infamous 2015 interview with Sky News chief political reporter David Speers, where he dubbed himself “the fixer” of the higher education sector. One of the more memorable days in the office, no doubt.

Former corporate affairs boss, Stacey O’Dea, who was the firm’s most public face, moved in April to a newly created role as chief operating officer in the financial advisory division, in one of former chief executive Luke Sayers’ last moves.

And after 15 years, PwC chief of staff James Collins will skip out of PwC towers for the last time on July 31. Collins, who joined the consultancy behemoth as communications director in 2005, spent the past eight years as consigliere to the departed Sayers. Collins has told friends he is leaving amicably for a career break, but CBD has no doubt he will resurface somewhere prominent eventually.

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