Home' Scoop : Scoop 55 Autumn 2011 Contents e once infamously dubbed Paul Keating
“Captain Wacky”, was pivotal in the ousting
of Kevin Rudd and has since made a meteoric
rise through government ranks. Yet we’ve heard
surprisingly little of WA’s newest federal cabinet
minister. And that’s just the way he likes it.
“I don’t worry too much about having a high
public profile,” says Gary Gray, AO.
There’s curiosity in the business community
about this ALP stalwart whose political
ascendancy has been applauded by supporters
from the big end of town – often assumed to be
philosophically at odds with the union movement.
Gray sees no such dichotomy. “You’ve got to
have a deep appreciation of business,” says the man
who spent years in politics before moving into the
corporate world. He’s well-known for successfully
defending Perth-based oil and gas producer
Woodside from a hostile takeover by Shell in 2001.
Indeed, it was Woodside’s Don Voelte who
encouraged Gray to return to political life. In 2007,
Gray ran for the seat of Brand and won what he
initially assumed would be a period in opposition,
during which he could work towards rebuilding
what he saw as an “underperforming” Labor Party.
But Rudd and Labor swept to power and Gray
went straight into the federal executive. In the
2010 election, he retained his southern Perth seat.
This was no mean feat, given its large population
of fly-in, fly-out workers, at the time of the
government’s disastrous position on the mining tax.
In September he was appointed Special Minister
of State in good friend Julia Gillard’s ministry.
Quite a reward for a politician with just over three
years in parliament. But his political experience,
he argues, is hug e. He’s been a part of more state,
federal and by-election campaigns than any other
person in the parliament and served as national
secretary of the ALP for longer than anyone else.
The son of a steel worker and a cleaner, Gray
migrated from the UK at the age of eight and settled
with his family in South Australia. “I’m very much
of the view that you get your politics, your religion
and your football team from your family,” says
Gray, now 52. He still barracks for North Adelaide.
He got his first job at the local BHP steelworks
and followed with a stint at the Savings Bank of
South Australia. He graduated with an economics
degree from the Australian National University a
few years later and began his political career as
assistant to Northern Territory opposition leader
Bob Collins in the early 1980s. Following stints
as a national organiser of the ALP and working
with the UK Labour party, he further cemented
radiates from the heart
Tel: (08) 9388 3399
359 Rokeby Road, Subiaco WA
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