Wilkie’s pokie saga shows money trumps passion. Who is Andrew Wilkie trying to bluff? Does he think he can really force the Gillard government into passing his pokie reforms, or is he just trying to save face? Whatever he’s doing, the pokie saga has become a fascinating study of power.

The anti-pokie crusader demanded yesterday that the government set a legislative framework for mandatory pre-commitment by May, as per the original timetable, and then add the details later by regulation, in 2014. Julia Gillard is saying absolutely nothing about the talks she and Wilkie have had in the past few days, but The Power Index would be amazed if she agrees to such a proposition, even if it were technically feasible. — Paul Barry (read the full story here)

Power couple: Behrendt and Lavarch. It’s safe to assume Michael Lavarch and Larissa Behrendt wouldn’t have made it onto Andrew Bolt’s Christmas card list.

Lavarch, as attorney-general in the second Keating government, amended the Racial Discrimination Act to make it an insult to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” people on the basis of their race. He could never have imagined that, almost 20 years later, his wife-to-be would use that very provision to sue the nation’s most read newspaper columnist. Legal academic Larissa Behrendt was one of the nine indigenous Australians who took Bolt to court last year over articles in which he claimed they had played up being black for career advancement. How’s that for a one-two punch? — Matthew Knott (read the full story here)

West Australians asking, Mark who? Mark McGowan is expected to take the helm of WA’s Labor Party next week. But while many West Australians would fail to pick him out from a crowd, the MP has been preparing to take the top job since he joined the party at the tender age of 17.

He was elected deputy mayor for the coastal city of Rockingham before becoming state member for Rockingham in 1996. As an ambitious MP he has served in various ministries, including education and environment. — Lucy Clark (read the full story here)

Power play: be mysterious. Power players know when to share and when to hold something back.

Get out of the habit of telling people your story. They don’t need to know. In fact, people need to know a lot less than you think. — Rose Herceg (read the full story here)