April, 2006: deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, part way through completing the Kokoda Track, the shadow foreign affairs minister shampooed his hair in a shallow part of the river. Suddenly, a strong current began to sweep the politician downstream. But help was on hand — the bare-chested Member for North Sydney reached out and the Sunrise cameras rolled as Joe Hockey dragged Kevin Rudd out of the raging waters.

Hockey again extended a helping hand last Friday, defending the Labor leader’s involvement in Sunrise’ s proposed fake dawn Anzac service:

Look there’s no doubting the positive motivations of you guys at Sunrise or Kevin or Bronwyn (Bishop) or anyone else about why this was going to happen …

This is about honouring the diggers on Anzac Day.

There was no attempt to score political points and no one should in any way doubt the intentions of Sunrise, of Adam Boland ( Sunrise producer), of Kochie (Koch) and Kevin Rudd or anyone else.

It was the beginning of the end of a beautiful political friendship. Over the weekend, The Daily Tele reported that Hockey was copping flak from fellow ministers for defending his co-star, the other half of the regular Friday Sunrise segment, The Big Guns of Politics.

But some things are worth fighting for. After all, this was a relationship that stretched back five years. The two became members of the Sunrise family in 2001, and as Rudd explained during a recent Triple M interview:

When I first started going on Sunrise , you couldn’t get your Mum and your Aunt Nellie to watch the program and you know, it’s changed a lot over the last five years so I still (inaudible). I just think you know, they’ve had me on in the past when I was nobody and I’m still probably in the eyes of most people still nobody. I think it’s important to say that.

Over time, Hockey and Rudd’s relationship blossomed. They sang karaoke together, they baked together and they shampooed together.

But then politics stepped in. Reportedly under pressure from his colleagues, Joe laid into Kevin. “Certainly over the last 72 hours there has been the emergence of quite a bit of information that requires a lot of answers from Mr Rudd,” Hockey told the Nine Network. “In part Kevin Rudd has brought some of this on himself … (He) has to explain to the Australian people exactly what his office’s involvement was and to clarify some of the key issues that have been raised in the media.”

Then came word that Kerry Stokes had raised concerns about Rudd’s on-going appearances on the show and that executives on rival TV networks were complaining that Rudd was favouring Seven.

And so, this morning we learn of the end of the affair. “They have decided it is no longer possible to continue as regular weekly guests on Sunrise, they point to their long standing friendship and their senior positions they now hold in opposing parties,” Sunrise presenter Melissa Doyle said this morning.

Co-host David Koch thanked both men for their time on the show:

They both thanked Sunrise viewers for the opportunity allowing them to speak candidly every week, we at Sunrise understand their position.

Politics can sometimes can be a pretty nasty game and it was never the intention of the segment to get bogged down in that.

To commemorate what was once a great love, here’s a snippet of the now defunct Sunrise Big Guns intro, complete with love hearts, karoake, and the near drowning incident

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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