Patrons hold the key to their advisers’ power

THE top political advisers are largely aligned with the most influential people in State politics.

In Premier Geoff Gallop’s office the key people are chief of staff Sean Walsh and senior media adviser Kieran Murphy.

They have both been with Gallop since his days as opposition leader, although the longevity of their time together does not mean they always agree.

The two men have been known to engage in robust debate over policies and tactics.

Treasurer Eric Ripper’s top adviser is chief of staff Mike Megaw, who formerly worked for Kim Beazley, while Attorney General Jim McGinty’s chief of staff is Danny Cloghan.

David Hatt holds a fascinating position. As head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s policy unit he is ostensibly a bureaucrat, however, in practice he is a political adviser.

He was previously employed in the Premier’s office as director of the strategic coordination unit and, should Labor lose the next election, his position would be untenable.

Mr Hatt, who also had a stint as Fremantle Dockers chief executive, is known to complain that nobody listens to him. 

Nevertheless, the Government created his current role early this year to provide strategic leadership and coordination, so he cannot be excluded from the list.

Mick Reid is the former director general of health in NSW who has been brought in as a special troubleshooter to try and sort out the State’s health system. This makes him a key player in State politics in the lead-up to the next election.

Richard Ellis is the chief of staff to Opposition Leader Colin Barnett, making him a key person should the coalition win the next election.

Mr Ellis has broad experience in the corporate sector and in federal politics, having worked for environment minister David Kemp and also worked for Mr Barnett during the Court Government.

The second key adviser is John Hammond, who was Mr Barnett’s chief of staff during the Court Government.

John Arthur is a Labor veteran. He is director of the Government Media Office and held the same role under Labor premiers Carmen Lawrence and Peter Dowding.

During the period of the Court Government, he established and ran Mt Hawthorn-based community newspaper, Voice News.

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