11/06/2009 - 00:00

Dominating the federal sphere

11/06/2009 - 00:00

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DESPITE a major spat with federal Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop, political observer Peter van Onselen still puts her in his top 10 most influential Western Australians.

Dominating the federal sphere

DESPITE a major spat with federal Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop, political observer Peter van Onselen still puts her in his top 10 most influential Western Australians.

Mr van Onselen believes Ms Bishop's influence has peaked since she stood down as opposition Treasury spokesperson but that her strength as a fundraiser keeps her in a powerful position.

"She is a conduit between business and politics," he told WA Business News.

As a rising star, Mr van Onselen believes the federal member of Stirling, Michael Keenan, is well positioned, being close to Malcolm Turnbull, though he also has a tough job retaining what is a marginal seat.

In federal politics, however, the most influential are those in government with Stephen Smith holding the prestigious cabinet position of foreign affairs and Senator Chris Evans that of immigration minister.

While both hold significant portfolios, the perception is that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd maintains a tight grip on the reins of government.

In addition, it's perceived Mr Smith has taken something of a back seat in terms of power broking since the days of Labor's political instability when it was in opposition and he was a player in the downfall of Simon Crean.

In those days he earned the tag of rooster, a derogatory name thrown at him and (now) Treasurer Wayne Swan for their role in playing the numbers game.

Another influential character in the federal government is the member for Brand, Gary Gray, who has been a long-time political backroom operator as a former Labor national secretary, and is credited as the lobbying mastermind behind Woodside Petroleum's successful fight against a takeover by Shell earlier this decade.

Mr Gray's influence in WA has increased since he became head of a new campaign committee created after the dramatic failure of Alan Carpenter to win what was considered an unlosable state election late last year

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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