29/10/2008 - 22:00

Grylls takes spotlight

29/10/2008 - 22:00


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IF media attention and headlines are anything to go by, then Brendon Grylls is very much the most influential of the new ministry surrounding Premier Colin Barnett.

IF media attention and headlines are anything to go by, then Brendon Grylls is very much the most influential of the new ministry surrounding Premier Colin Barnett.

Having struck a deal to allow the Liberals to form a government, Mr Grylls is making sure that his regional electorate is seeing that he is determined to deliver the outcomes he promised - that is, some $675 million be spent in addition to what was previously earmarked by the Labor government.

Clearly this has been an important time for him and Mr Barnett, with both needing to deliver to their respective electorates

Fortunately, there is some crossover. The premier is a big supporter of regional infrastructure development and will be backing projects that build the state.

In line with that are his two key industry-focused ministers.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore is one who clearly wants to make a statement in his portfolio, having made it clear that he will be pushing to speed up approvals on projects that are needed to keep some life in the resources boom.

This will be needed to fund the regional spending and ensure bush infrastructure is more efficiently used.

For someone regarded as an opponent of Mr Barnett's within the Liberal party, Mr Moore has ended up taking a key role in a new government, which has to hit the ground running, especially in the resources department.

One question mark regarding Mr Moore will be his long-term intentions, having entered the WA parliament in 1977 and served as a senior minister under the government of Richard Court.

Holding the purse strings, Treasurer Troy Buswell will be a key player in the budget process.

He has, it seems, also been something of an early enforcer of policy at cabinet level, reminding ministers that they need to get on top of their departments, not the other way around.

Both men will be likely to take parts of a disaggregated Department of Industry and Development and will therefore not only be shaping the outcome but also be critical in ensuring the transition is smooth.

For Mr Buswell, a further test of his influence will be steering clear of the issues that troubled his brief period as leader of the opposition.

For business, another two ministers that will prove very important are deputy Premier Kim Hames, who also has the Indigenous Affairs portfolio on top of his responsibilities as Health Minister, and Donna Faragher, the youngest cabinet member, who has the environment portfolio.

Both these areas are integral to resources projects as well as many other developments in regional WA.

From a business perspective, other ministers to watch are Simon O'Brien, Peter Collier and Christian Porter.

In opposition, Mr O'Brien was a keen policy driver in the transport sector, which he was rewarded with in government.

He has been pushing hard to speed up the shift in port traffic from Fremantle to Kwinana, a major infrastructure change. However, his short-term goals have been impacted by a health issue.

Mr Collier was seen as something of a loser in Mr Barnett's first cabinet, having lost the education portfolio to Dr Liz Constable.

He has been given the energy and training portfolios, both important to industry.

However, there is a caveat on that; with Mr Barnett's personal penchant for energy matters, as well as naming himself state development minister, it is highly likely that much of the big matters in this field will be found on the premier's desk.

As the new Attorney General, Mr Porter is less influential with mainstream industry than his counterparts.

However, the youthful lawyer is seen as a future leader and is understood to be well-connected within the party hierarchy.


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