WITH the Coalition holding power in Canberra and hot favourites to win the next election, the key figures in WA are in the Liberal Party.
The two people who currently wield most influence in the party are Senators Chris Ellison and Ian Campbell. As well as being powerful back-room operators, they also hold junior ministries, with Ellison being Justice Minister and Campbell being parliamentary secretary to the Treasurer and manager of Government business in the Senate.
Attorney General Daryl Williams holds a much more powerful ministry and has been a key player in the response to global terrorism, however, he is considered less influential on this side of the Nullarbor.
Two up-and-coming people in the Liberal Party are Curtin MP Julie Bishop and Senator David Johnston, who was formerly party president in WA.
Ms Bishop is considered a close supporter of Peter Costello and a likely minister should he become leader. It will be interesting to see how she manages her political career, now that John Howard has chosen to stay as Prime Minister.
Ms Bishop and Senator Johnston are rumoured to be backing Danielle Blain, who is standing against Kim Keogh for the position of Liberal Party State president.
On the Labor side of politics, Stephen Smith has long been regarded as the top dog in WA.
He is a powerful backroom operator (he was formerly State ALP secretary), helps to guide the policy debates (he was a former adviser to Paul Keating) and had been in line for a senior ministry if Labor were to win office (he was Shadow Health Minister).
Mr Smith’s public backing of Kim Beazley’s unsuccessful leadership challenge has certainly put a dent in his political prospects.
He has resigned from the shadow ministry but, given his political instincts and influence, is unlikely to stay on the back bench for an extended period.
Kim Beazley may have run his last race after unsuccessfully challenging Simon Crean for the Labor leadership.
Then again, pundits made the same prediction after he lost two Federal elections.
He has been retained on the list because he may still have an influence on Federal politics, if only as a destabiliser.
Democrats Senator Andrew Murray snuck onto the list at number eight.
He has already shaken up the Democrats and is seen as a person with whom the Government can sensibly negotiate.
Labor MP Carmen Lawrence has been dropped off the list.
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