16 September 2015
by Will Glasgow

The fall out: Who wins and who loses in the Malcolm Turnbull era


Peta Credlin

Across the political, business and media worlds, there will be a mountain of losers following Malcolm Turnbull's recent initiative – even if our new Prime Minister has the best intentions in the world. There will be a few winners too.

Let's begin in the Prime Minister's Office and work our way out.
Peta Credlin joins Tony Abbott on top of the losers pile.

And the winners pile?
The Liberal Party's chief fixer Tony Nutt has finally moved from his job as NSW Liberal secretary into the PMO, but apparently it is only for a two week stint to manage Turnbull's transition into the Prime Ministership. He will offer guidance on the new cabinet (expected to be announced on Friday) and work out who to put into the various offices that line the blue carpeted ministerial wing.

Nutt's counterpart on the successful NSW election Mark Textor will again be positioned snugly inside the tent.

A sanctuary for vanquished staffers
Back to those staffers. One of the little noted consequences of contemporary Australia's brutal turnover of Prime Ministers is the huge army of ex political staffers. At this rate half the country will have a stint in the PMO on their CV.

What are we going to do with them all? There are only so many guest spots to fill on The Drum.

However, all this churn does elevate the nation's government relations army. Perhaps a sanctuary for those ex-staffers awaits.

From the corporate towers of Sydney to the university campuses of Melbourne to the mining offices of Perth to the property brigade in Brisbane and beyond – bosses are asking their excited, if understandably confused, government relations staff, who will be their relevant minister?

And what would that mean – for education policy, media policy, financial services policy or whatever else? And, more importantly, what the hell did Jamie Briggs do to his leg?

Playing fantasy Liberal Party
Yes, political tragics are in Nirvana, playing fantasy Liberal Party and talking as if all jobs up for grabs.

Will Credlin's husband Brian Loughnane stay on as federal director? With an election less than a year away a change would be extraordinary. And, aside from Nutt (who, regrettably, has not yet been cloned) there's hardly a long list of people who could do the job – take a look at some of the state branches.

Will Christopher Pyne really be the Defence Minister? If not, it sounds like a brilliant idea for a comic musical.

Hands off the APS
What about the Public Service's glamour duo, secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Michael Thawley (who came from a high paying private job at Capital Group) and secretary to the Treasury John Fraser (formerly a London-based executive at Swiss bank UBS)?

Surely they will stay in their jobs until the other side of an election. With the Liberal Party in its current state, you'd hardly want to implode the public service. Someone's got to run the country.

And once Nutt has done his fortnight stint, what happens to him? He could return to his job as the Party's NSW director, although many would love Nutt to reprise the principal adviser role he played so successfully for John Howard, our last Prime Minister to serve a full term.

For now Drew Clarke, the secretary of the Department of Communications, is Turnbull's acting chief of staff. Our new PM's long serving adviser Sally Cray must be on the short list to replace him permanently – subject to Nutt's advice.

Hadley puts Morrison on notice
Then there are the media headaches.

Alan Jones, a friend of former PM Abbott, was predictably appalled on Tuesday morning's breakfast show. Although his anger was tempered by the apparent crashing of the radio stations mobile phone application – surely a good sign for ratings.

"It's, what do you call it, maxed out!" said Jones, triumphantly, before taking more calls on the disrespect given to his friend. (It's worth remembering that Jones worked the phones for Abbott during his "near-death experience" in February.)

Jones's stable mate Ray Hadley was even more savage. He even turned the heat onto Treasurer-in-waiting Morrison. The pair have a close relationship – or did before this week.

"Scott, the ball's in your court – you take the job and people will look at you in an entirely different light," warned Hadley. An interesting development.

A new GG?
A final winner must be Turnbull's good friend, former workmate and now Seven commercial director Bruce McWilliam. It can't be long now until he moves into the Governor General's Yarralumla residence. Think of the parties!