HomeWorld NewsPezzullo’s memorable moments and a senator left out of the loop
Pezzullo’s memorable moments and a senator left out of the loop
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CBD reckons few in Canberra will be in mourning re the travails of Home Affairs boss Mike Pezzullo after the outspoken public servant stood aside on Monday pending an investigation that follows publication by this masthead and 60 Minutes of messages exchanged with Liberal powerbroker Scott Briggs.
The whole thing has got us reminiscing about one of Iron Mike’s memorable moments in Senate estimates.
The year was 2019, and Pezzullo had been involved in a collision with cyclist Jason Sievers a few months earlier, with the two men’s versions of events differing sharply.
When Labor senator Murray Watt tried at the estimates hearing to lay into the powerful public servant, Queensland Coalition senator Ian Macdonald stepped in to protect his man, ruling Watt’s question out of order.
“I’m not quite sure what political purpose there is with Mr Pezzullo,” Macdonald said. “He is an apolitical public servant.”
Poor old Ian clearly wasn’t being kept in the loop.
CBD last spotted Pezzullo seated next to then-Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in Parliament House’s Great Hall for Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ post-budget address to the National Press Club in May.
Pezzullo was invited as the airline’s guest, with Qantas picking up the $200 seat. The pair were all smiles on the day.
But just months later, Iron Mike’s reign might finally be ending and Joyce has left Qantas as the country’s least popular CEO.
Alan Joyce (left) and Mike Pezzullo at a speech by Treasurer Jim Chalmers at Parliament House in May.Credit: Alex Elllinghausen
As for Briggs, the bloke who received all of those hot takes from Pezzullo on the future of the Liberal Party? Well, last we heard, he was an outside shot at succeeding Scott Morrison as member for Cook, if the former PM ever quits parliament (and at this point, it might not be until the next election).
It’s well documented that Greg Mirabella – a former army officer, senator and, most recently, Victorian Liberal Party president – packed in the backroom life a couple of months ago to pursue his dream of returning to Canberra’s red chamber, nominating for the party’s Senate ticket for the next election.
Senators James Paterson and Jane Hume cobbled together a non-aggression pact last month to take the ticket’s safe-as-houses first and second spots respectively, which just leaves the not-always-winnable third position up for grabs.
That’s the spot left vacant by David Van, who was turfed from the Liberal Party in June after he was accused of sexual harassment – which he denies – and now sits as an independent.
But getting the nod when the party makes its decision in November might not be a walk-up start for Mirabella, with a couple of interesting names on the list of contenders issued to party members on Monday morning.
Senate hopeful and snake catcher Jarrod Bingham during his 2022 state politics tilt.Credit: Rachael Dexter
Our eye was caught by Jarrod Bingham, the snake-catching (that’s his actual job) former regional councillor who ran as an independent for the state seat of Melton in the 2022 Victorian election against the Liberals’ Graham Watt – and managed to be the best of the rest behind the two major parties, outpolling the Greens.
After that effort, Bingham’s application for Liberal Party membership had to go for approval to the state council, which probably decided that a bloke who knows how to handle dangerous reptiles would be handy to have around.
Also in the mix are former Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Karyn Sobels, who brings a wealth of policy experience to her tilt at Senate glory, and former Senate candidate and Baptist sometime preacher Kyle Hoppitt, who missed out on a spot in 2019, the year Van was elected.
Some in the party hierarchy are daring to dream that the winner of the preselection contest might be able to get their bum onto the coveted red leather seat without first having to face the electorate.
Senator David Van. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
The investigation by the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service into the complaints against Van – who denies them, vehemently – is expected to be concluded within about six weeks, with aforementioned Liberal optimists speculating that the findings might force their erstwhile colleague right out of politics, handing the party its seat back.
It’s hard to know what might happen, this being the first investigation of its kind by the fledgling standards outfit, but some circumstantial evidence has emerged suggesting Van – who did not respond to our invitation to discuss these matters on Monday – is not planning to go anywhere.
He’s looking to hire a parliamentary officer to join his team, splitting their time between his electorate office in Cheltenham and Parliament House in Canberra.
If you’re keen, you’ll need a fairly wide skill set, with political experience and a “demonstrated professional integrity and the ability to exercise discretion and maintain confidentiality”.
In better news for local Liberals, party leader John Pesutto told the faithful on Sunday that he was working hard to establish a point of difference between his opposition and Daniel Andrews’ Labor government.
Taking their cue from the boss, Pesutto’s people – massive fans of this column – were eager to point out, in light of Andrews’ rare appearances on Melbourne radio, that their own man had been positively blitzing the airwaves on Monday morning.
Pesutto did a 30-minute slot with retiring 3AW mornings veteran Neil Mitchell before lobbing up on ABC Radio Melbourne for a chat with Waleed Aly, who was filling in for Raf Epstein on the station’s morning show, with the Liberal leader taking talkback calls during both interviews.
Probably not enough to establish Pesutto as man of the people just yet, but as he says, working hard.
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