29/01/2021 - 08:00

Zempilas ally takes Perth comms role

29/01/2021 - 08:00

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A former adviser to Colin Barnett and friend of Basil Zempilas has been picked to fill a key corporate communications role at the City of Perth.

Zempilas ally takes Perth comms role
City of Perth's lord mayor and council was elected in October. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A former adviser to Colin Barnett and friend of Basil Zempilas has been picked to fill a key corporate communications role at the City of Perth.

Graham Mason, who was a media adviser to Mr Barnett during his second term as premier, will start as alliance manager of corporate communications for the city this Monday, following a two-year stint as head of media, communications and government relations with Optus Stadium.

Prior to entering politics, Mr Mason worked as a journalist with Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment.

Mr Zempilas has worked with Seven West Media for more than 25 years and was also a presenter for 6PR, which is owned by Nine Entertainment, as recently as December.

Mr Mason was an informal advisor to Mr Zempilas’s campaign for lord mayor, along with the likes of Dixie Marshall, who, like Mr Mason, also worked for Nine Entertainment and as a media adviser to Mr Barnett.

Mr Zempilas said he was aware that Mr Mason had been hired for the job when asked about the appointment earlier this week.

“He is a friend of mine … he’s the sort of person who I’ve rung over the years and asked his advice on,” he said.

“He helped me out occasionally with some advice on the phone during my campaign.

“My understanding is he was an applicant for a position here, he went through a rigorous process and was the successful candidate.

“Am I looking forward to working with Graham Mason again? Yes, I am. It’s exciting.”

Mr Zempilas agreed with the characterisation of Mr Mason as an informal adviser during his lord mayoral campaign, with the caveat that he had many friends with whom he would ask for advice.

Graham Mason didn’t walk in here because he’s known to me,” he said.

Chief executive Michelle Reynolds declined to provide specific details of Mr Mason’s hiring, other than to say the city had completed a comprehensive recruitment process in line with standard practice and interviewed a strong selection of applicants for the role.

“The successful candidate, Graham Mason, has a wealth of experience within the communications industry, and the city looks forward to his commencement,” M Reynolds said.

Mr Mason’s hiring comes fewer than six months after Mr Zempilas and eight other councillors were elected to the city’s council following two years in which the city’s residents and businesses were without representation.

That stemmed from the suspension of the previous council, which was variously accused of electoral fraud, conflicts of interest and factionalism in the inquiry’s accompanying report.

Mr Zempilas and four other councillors, including Deputy Lord Mayor Sandy Anghie, will serve in their positions until 2023, with the remaining four councillors facing voters again in October.

Mr Mason has been sought for comment.

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