Penny Wong shows her human side. Famously guarded Finance Minister Penny Wong opened up about race, sexuality and her family on ABC’s Kitchen Cabinet last night. Wong cooked a spicy Malaysian fish dish — a recipe handed to her by her late brother Toby — for host Annabel Crabb, who cleverly uses food as a vehicle to humanise her interview subjects.

During their pow wow, Wong discussed being bullied as an Adelaide schoolgirl, her ironic reason for becoming involved in student politics (opposition to Labor’s HECS scheme), and the recent birth of a daughter with partner Sophie Allouache.

Goodbye Jeff, we hardly knew ye. Low-profile Australian Council of Trade Unions boss Jeff Lawrence officially announced his resignation yesterday, with left-wing manufacturing union boss Dave Oliver expected to replace him.

Although well-liked, Lawrence didn’t come close to matching his predecessor, Greg Combet, for clout during his four-and-a-half years running the ACTU. He was unlikely to have been re-elected in May. Oliver, a protégé of firebrand Labor left faction senator Doug Cameron, this morning announced he will seek the position. He is understood to have the backing of Paul Howes’ Australian Workers Union, Tony Sheldon’s Transport Workers Union and the large left-wing Australian Education Union.

Heather Everywhere keeps swinging. Heather Ridout has continued her long-running campaign against the Gillard government’s $23 a tonne carbon tax starting price. The new Reserve Bank of Australia board member is one of several business leaders calling for a $10 a tonne starting price when the scheme is launched in July.

Ridout, ranked The Power Index‘s second most powerful lobbyist last year, will step down from her duties at the Australian Industry Group in April. She will be replaced by Innes Wilcox, a former chief of staff to Alexander Downer.

*Read the full story at The Power Index

Peter Fray

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