The Power Index‘s Paul Barry wrote an illuminating profile on South Australian Senator Don Farrell last year. He reported:

Don Farrell was one of the players in the coup that brought down Kevin Rudd in June 2010. He also orchestrated the mugging of South Australian Premier Mike Rann, although he left the deed to others.

And although you may never have heard of him, this softly-spoken Labor powerbroker has actually been king of the hill in South Australia for the past two decades.

”Don has absolute power in the Right,” says the ALP’s former deputy leader Ralph Clarke. ”He controls the preselection directly or indirectly of every MP in South Australia. If you want to get on, you get on with Don.”

Farrell also decides who is the state’s Labor leader and who gets into cabinet. At the end of the day, it is a simple proposition, explains Clarke: “He has got the numbers.”

Except this time he didn’t, bowing to the pressure brought by left-wing heavy Anthony Albanese and others in the Labor Party who thought tipping Finance Minister Penny Wong out of the top Senate ticket position in SA was not a good look for a party that voters believe is beholden to factional interests.

Farrell said today his decision to swap with Wong was about putting the party’s interests before his.

There’s a first time for everything.