Frank Lowy hits back at Clive Palmer, Stephen Conroy gets a win, art world salaries ramp up and Clover Moore could be up against US-style primaries. Here’s a run-down of today’s power moves:

Footy billionaires’ tit for tat continues. Soccer boss Frank Lowy’s stoush with Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer has got all the drama of a Labor party soap opera. Yesterday Lowy, chairman of the Football Federation of Australia, told a business lunch in Melbourne that the FFA will do what’s necessary to protect its interests, even if that means going to the courts.

“I don’t want to go for litigation, but will I have a choice? I don’t know,” Lowy said. Palmer’s been hitting out at the FFA in recent weeks on everything from the salaries of its executives to the way it selects the national team. But The Power Index’s favourite Palmer tactic came over the weekend, when he sent his players onto the pitch with free speech logos on their strips.

Looking for a lucrative job? Join the art world. Tony Ellwood’s appointment as the new director of the National Gallery of Victoria, expected to be announced this morning, confirms there’s a new normal when it comes to salaries in the art world. The Age reports that Ellwood will receive a salary of around $445,000, a significant increase from the gallery’s current director Gerard Vaughan, who’s on $320,000.

Over at the Art Gallery of NSW, Edmund Capon’s replacement Michael Brand will also collect a healthy $445,000 when he starts in August. Not bad at all.

US Republican nomination: the real political Big Brother. Over in the United States, The Power Index is watching the Republican presidential nomination with interest. Is this the real political Big Brother? And could Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum be the last to leave the house?

Today’s vote in Michigan will provide a few answers. Michigan is Mitt Romney territory (Romney’s father served as Michigan’s governor) and a loss here could derail the momentum he needs to contest the 10 nominations that occur on ‘Super Tuesday’ on March 6.

Calling on the people to oust Clover Moore. Meanwhile, the NSW Labor Party looks set to bring a little bit of the US primary process to Sydney, with its plans to open a preselection process to all 90,000 of the City of Sydney’s voters to select the best candidate to take on mayor Clover Moore at the council elections in September.

The independent Moore, No. 4 on the Sydney power list, has been in the job since 2004, proving a difficult hurdle in Labor’s attempts to snare back the position. In an opinion piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning, Labor’s unsuccessful 2008 candidate, Meredith Burgmann, declared she will not contest the election again and urged the party to support the “primaries”.

Stephen Conroy realigns the weapons. Communications minister Stephen Conroy must be happy with himself. The doublepower lister passed a significant hurdle yesterday when the competition watchdog gave its tick of approval to Telstra’s structural separation undertaking, securing Telstra’s role in the national broadband network.

With the prime minister already calling the next election a battle between those who want the NBN and those who don’t, Conroy’s now digging the trenches for war with the Opposition. Lucky for him, he got in plenty of practice last week against a certain former foreign minister.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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