29/10/2008 - 22:00

Barnett’s inner circle

29/10/2008 - 22:00


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THE inner court of Colin Barnett is a small and select group, according to those that watch government closely.

Barnett’s inner circle

THE inner court of Colin Barnett is a small and select group, according to those that watch government closely.

The role of Dr Liz Constable is highlighted as that of the closest parliamentarian to Mr Barnett, notably someone who balances his preference for policy with a nose for politics.

The emergence of the nominally independent Dr Constable in a critical portfolio attests to her place in the inner sanctum, not to mention her importance to the government in terms of delivering a critical seat.

Another parliamentarian whom some say Mr Barnett is in close contact with is Attorney General Christian Porter, who has a strong political pedigree through his family's long Liberal links.

Within the premier's office, sources said his former electorate officer Narelle Cant, is a key sounding board on policy.

Some suggest oil and gas industry representative Richard Ellis, who worked for Mr Barnett in the government of Richard Court, also remains close to the new premier.

Just how much advice he takes, though, is an unknown. Mr Barnett is known to keep his own counsel, a trait that has caused others concern in the past.

"Frankly, he's a pig-headed bastard," said one observer with long experience dealing with him. "Whether being elected as premier in his own right will change him, who knows?"

"He seems to be a bloke who is comfortable with himself and should be able to say these are my ideas, but before acting on them get good advice."

Those who've watched him work say he does work well with people he respects.

"It will be interesting to see how he works with the public service," said one observer.

"[As a minister] he worked well with those he had time for in the public service.

"He has to come to a view as to who he likes and get them into positions that can be effective."

If so, that has to happen sooner rather than later because there is a strong view the government has very little time to get its house in order.

"The risk is that he doesn't give it the intensity that it needs," said one business leader.

"You have to send a message to the public service that you mean business and get on and do things."


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