The Fifth Estate
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The prime minister’s chief of staff has a unique role in Australian political culture. With immeasurable influence – some much more than others – as confidantes, mediators, gatekeepers and advisors, the chief of staff steers the prime minister through the challenges and landmines of leadership, fine tuning and coordinating the things that matter to help win the support of cabinet, caucus and country.
What makes a great chief of staff? What are the challenges, pressures and principles that occupy their time? And what matters most in this powerful behind-the-scenes role? Prime Minister Tony Abbott calls his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, ‘the boss’. Kevin Rudd’s chief of staff, Alister Jordan, was referred to as ‘the wunderkind’, not always kindly.
Join Fifth Estate host Sally Warhaft with Anne Tiernan, associate professor at the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University, and David Epstein, the first chief of staff to Prime Minister Rudd, to discuss the chiefs, past and present, and this singular job in the national capital.
David Epstein is vice-president, corporate affairs and regulatory affairs for Singtel Optus. Educated at The ANU and Wharton (UPenn), David is an experienced corporate affairs executive with a background in regulatory and public affairs, both internationally and in Australia.
Anne Tiernan is an associate professor in the Centre of Governance and Public Policy and School of Government at Griffith University. She is director of postgraduate and executive programs in policy analysis and public administration in Griffith’s School of Government and International Relations. The Gatekeepers: Lessons from Prime Ministers' Chiefs of Staff (written with R.A.W Rhodes) was published by MUP August 2014.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, the Fifth Estate, now in its sixth year. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.
Sally Warhaft has been the Wheeler Centre’s in-house news anchor since 2012. In 2018 – over 100 episodes in – the anthropologist, broadcaster and intrepid interviewer’s fortnightly live series continues, as she responds to the most important debates of the day and reignites stories that have fallen off the front pages.
Every second Tuesday, Sally hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs. It’s an event series and a live podcast taping rolled into one. Topical guests are announced in the weeks prior to events: keep an eye on our website (or in the Wheeler Weekly) for updates.
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