LESS than 18 months ago Bill Tilley was on the outer, now he is increasingly looking like the last man standing.
The one time parliamentary secretary for police was allegedly a co-conspirator in a plot to rid Victoria of its top cop, Simon Overland.
And, it seemed, without the prior knowledge of Police Minister and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, his boss in the portfolio.
Mr Tilley’s fate as parliamentary secretary was decided by political expediency and perhaps sealed by the ominous title of the report Crossing the Line.
It was political meddling, tut-tutted Mr Ryan.
And it wasn’t hard to believe.
On one hand was a very official and weighty document saying so.
Mr Tilley and his co-conspirator, police advisor Tristan Weston, saying they had told the minister, a fact Mr Ryan denied.
On the other hand, as former cops — Mr Tilley had been in highway patrol, Mr Weston skilled in terrorism interrogation and rumoured to have an IQ of 149 — the thinking was far from irrational.
It was no secret that Overland was no darling of the beat.
Police roundly criticised his bureaucratic background — he wasn’t a real copper.
He was also seen as a Labor party apparatchik, gifted the top job by another flawed leader in Christine Nixon.
Overland did not take criticism well, nor suffer uninformed reporters.
On one particular day in Wodonga, the man who had a role in the gangland fighting Purana taskforce, and amid rumours he would be portrayed on the stage and screen, fronted the media.
A television reporter, hair perfect and teetering on high heels, asked who he was and what he did. The look on his face was priceless.
But perhaps as a result of their police background, rather than in spite of it, we should have smelled a rat.
Mr Tilley knew what giving evidence under oath meant. So too, we can assume, did his alleged co-conspirator.
Within months the cracks began to appear.
Mr Ryan was asked to explain the differing versions of events.
The member for Benambra simply reiterated he stood by the evidence he gave under oath.
The pair agreed to disagree.
It wouldn’t be the last time. Six months later Mr Tilley claimed the Nationals leader had tried to bully him into recanting his evidence — he had the tapes, too.
Two weeks later the pair were together in Wodonga.
Hamming it up for the press, Mr Ryan called it old news, yesterday’s fish and chip wrapper.
But the atmosphere was tense despite the theatrics.
Click play to watch the tense press conference.
And so we come to the latest fish and chip wrapper involving Mr Ryan — a series of taped telephone conversations between a senior Liberal power broker and the long since sacked Mr Weston.
Nine months after he had been found to be Crossing the Line.
It franks the growing suspicion that Mr Tilley became a political scapegoat for an alliance that held power by a single seat.
A marriage of ideals that handed the conservatives power after a decade in the wilderness.
The Deputy Leader could not be seen to have blood on his hands, a less than perfect memory.
Mr Baillieu stood by his second again this week but for how much longer is the question.
The same may be said of “one-term” Ted, as some have labelled the Premier in recent times.
He has already offended nurses, teachers and now ambos.
On Monday, Mr Tilley downplayed a return to the frontbench with a politically correct or perhaps prescient comment: “If the Premier of the day sees fit” he would return to a senior role.
He didn’t say Mr Baillieu, perhaps he didn’t need to.
Someone needs to fall on the sword, finally come clean on this whole sordid mess.
And when it is all said and done it might be that Mr Tilley, despite his questionable involvement in the Overland matter, might just be the last man standing.