The Fifth Estate
View all events in this series
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. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. 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 is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.
For in-depth insider analysis of current affairs, it doesn't get any better than The Fifth Estate.
This long-running series is a mainstay of the Wheeler Centre’s programme, and of public conversation in Melbourne. Twice a month, our in-house news anchor Sally Warhaft hosts guests from the world of politics, culture, journalism and international relations to dissect pressing questions of policy, power and public affairs. It's free, it's fortnightly and it's a chance to give complex local and global issues the thoughtful discussion they deserve.
Guests are announced in the weeks prior to events, so keep an eye on our website (or the Wheeler Weekly newsletter) for updates. Subscribe to the popular Fifth Estate podcast – or book a (free) ticket – for expert analysis on today's key debates.