Election 22 / 04 May 2022

The who’s who of the campaign

Let’s pull out the name tags and talk about the who’s who of this campaign – and in doing so, demonstrate some differences in Team Morrison and Team Albanese’s approaches.

Rightio – who are some of the people who are on the leaders’ RAAF jets and in campaign headquarters making the big calls?
It’s a good question because these are people who are mostly in the background – they might pop up in the Financial Review‘s power list each year, but you otherwise wouldn’t hear much about them even though they are critical to the political parties’ strategy, tactics and policies, along with shaping the messages and the performances of the leaders.

I’ve tossed a coin and Labor’s Anthony Albanese is leading us off. Who’s up the front of the plane with him?
First to mention is his chief of staff, Tim Gartrell. Basically what you need to know about him is he was behind the Kevin ’07 campaign when he was the national secretary of the Labor Party in 2007. He left politics in 2008 and returned to become Albanese’s chief of staff in 2019 and is his closest adviser on the road.

The media advisers are usually top of the tree too, aren’t they?
They sure are and in Albanese’s camp that’s his director of media Liz Fitch. 

Are there any colleagues travelling with him?
Albanese’s also got a party elder with him… He’s joined on the campaign trail by Stephen Smith – he’s a former defence, foreign affairs and trade minister who retired in 2013. Smith is now a professor at the University of Western Australia, is a former state secretary of the party and those who know him say he’s a steady kinda guy.

What’s this ‘party elder’ role?
They’ve become a bit of a feature in recent campaigns. The idea is they are outside the leader’s normal day-to-day team, they’re former senior politicians who know what it’s like to face the media and be the one making the calls. They can be a trusted sounding board for the leader – we’ve talked a bit about the pressure they’re under so it’s handy to have someone who knows you that you can talk to and bounce ideas off.

Are there any other Labor luminaries involved?
Yes – apparently Albanese is on the phone a bit to former Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. And he’s said to be in regular contact with Greg Combet who’s a former union boss and former minister, and now chairs Industry Super Australia.

So where’s campaign headquarters for Labor this campaign?
Sydney’s Surry Hills… It’s being run by the party’s national secretary Paul Erickson, and there are also a couple of campaign spokespeople who we’ve seen a bit of this campaign.

And who covered for him when he was off with COVID?
We did see a bit more of Senator Katy Gallagher from the ACT and NSW MP Jason Clare – they are the official campaign spokespeople. They work closely with campaign headquarters and Albanese’s team to supplement his media appearances. We’ve also seen a bit of deputy leader Richard Marles, Senate leader Penny Wong and Labor’s treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers this campaign.

What about his nearest and dearest?
When it comes to Albanese’s family life, we’ve also seen a bit of his partner Jodie Haydon – they have been together for a couple of years and he says it’s up to her to decide how much or how little she wants to be involved in the campaign. We’ve also seen his dog Toto pop up on his Instagram as a good iso buddy.

That’s Labor – who are we starting with for the Coalition?
So unlike Albanese, Morrison’s chief of staff John Kunkel is based at campaign headquarters – he’s a policy wonk so that’s where he’s at. Morrison’s most senior staffer on the plane with him is Yaron Finklestein, who is his principal private secretary.

What about his media adviser?
Yep, his media director Andrew Carswell is there. 

It sure is. And his party elder? 
He’s not travelling with one. Morrison’s travelling with Ben Morton who’s an MP and former WA state director of the Liberal Party. Morrison’s a former NSW state director so the two have a simpatico and are close friends. 

So is there a trusted party person who’s been through this who he’s talking to?
How about having former PM John Howard at the end of the phone? Reports say the 2 are talking regularly. And he’s said to be talking to a couple of politically savvy friends and former Liberal backroom men, David Gazard and Scott Briggs.

And we’ve seen a little bit of Jenny Morrison.
By the look of things, she’s not travelling full time with him, but she has been on the campaign trail quite a bit and she’s done events on her own as well. Hard campaign heads see her as an attribute for the PM, and they will want her with him a lot as we head towards 21 May, so keep an eye out for that.

And what about their campaign headquarters?
They’ve set up in Milton in Brisbane – the Liberals’ federal director Andrew Hirst is running that. He’s seen as a bit of a genius after the 2019 “miracle’’ election victory. He’s working closely with the Nationals’ federal director Jonathan Hawkes who is also set up in the same headquarters..

Ah, so the Nats and Libs have the same headquarters…
They do – coordination is key. 

What about the campaign spokespeople?
The Coalition has 2 South Australians – Finance Minister Simon Birmingham and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston.

Anyone else to mention? 
Only a million people, but that will do for now…

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