Axe falls on media officers

MAJOR changes are likely at the Government Media Office following the swearing in of the new Labor Government.

GMO director Barry Thornton said the new government had the option of re-employing any of the press secretaries.

However, it is understood the Labor Government intends to apply a “new broom” policy to the GMO which leaves many of the press secretaries facing an uncertain future.

Richard Court’s press secretary Casey Cahill will not be returning to the GMO following his acceptance of a role as associate producer at Channel Seven.

Channel Seven believes Mr Cahill’s seniority and experience will be a valuable asset to the newsroom.

It is understood Mr Cahill’s decision to leave the GMO was made well in advance of the election outcome

All the press secretaries and GMO director Barry Thornton are on term of government contracts up until March 9.

While the government deliber-ates over the press secretaries, the GMO has ensured there are enough to work with each of the new ministers.

“I’ve had discussions with Geoff Gallop’s media adviser and as far as they’re concerned all the media secretary positions will be vacant,” Mr Thornton said.

The new government has the option of re-employing any of the press secretaries.

When the Liberal Government came to power eight years ago, about two thirds of the government press secretaries were retained.

“It’s a difficult time. I went through this eight years ago, just the same scenario now... there’s a lot of frustration and anxiety,” Mr Thornton said.

When there’s a change of government, the press secretaries, who are seen to be politically driven, are more likely to be culled.

“I would say they would have an idea of the press secretaries, If they had some concerns regarding suitability, any press secretaries who appear to be politically driven, that would be the benchmark,” Mr Thornton said.

He said he had advised the press secretaries not to let their personal political views affect their work.

“This allows the press secretaries a degree of integrity when dealing with the media, you can’t look at the present press secretaries and say they are a group of Liberal hacks,” Mr Thornton said.

“In the eastern states, press secretaries are aligned with a political party and it’s unusual for press secretaries to survive a change of government.

“The system here is that all the press secretaries are contracted to the premier and through me they get contracted to ministers, so they aren’t the property of ministers, I think that’s a far healthier system.”

The GMO was already able to confirm the departure of Casey Cahill and Justine Whittome, who also worked for Richard Court.


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