Home' Scoop : Scoop 55 Autumn 2011 Contents 88 SCOOP Autumn 2011
PEOPLE Gary Gray
his Labor pedigree by marrying Deborah Walsh,
daughter of former Hawke finance minister
Peter Walsh. In 1993 he was appointed national
secretary of the ALP.
Gray is now doing what he calls the “fairly
dour” job of managing the logistics of government.
He’s increasingly referred to by those outside the
realm of politics as the voice of common sense.
He is frank, unsentimental and calls it as he sees it.
Recently, this life-long unionist called the leader of
the Electrical Trades Union “a gigantic fool”.
Gray defies the sug gestion he’s one of Labor’s
‘faceless’ powerbrokers, saying he revealed the
decisions that led to the removal of Rudd as leader
to Barrie Cassidy in his book The Party Thieves.
Gray doesn’t want to elaborate on what happened
other than to call it “a necessary political decision
the g overnment had to make”.
Gray had been increasingly frustrated with
Rudd’s leadership. When the then prime minister
lost his cool over questioning about the home
insulation scandal during a 7.30 Report inter view
in 2010, Gray and his colleagues were prompted
to act. The subsequent demotion of environment
minister Peter Garrett proved the final straw. “For
Rudd and his office to position Garrett as the fall
guy was disgraceful, weak, sneaky, unprincipled
and just plain wrong,” he recounts to Cassidy.
Gray was already in the unenviable position
of having to defend the mining tax in WA. “The
original taxation structure didn’t recognise the
incredibly courag eous and creative effort that had
taken place out of WA, in particular to build a
magnetite market... from nothing,” he says.
They were tough days, he adds. “But you deal
with all of that in support of the broad objective,
which is a rational and proper taxation structure
for minerals. You don’t give in to the silliness that
minerals should not be taxed at all.”
Gray says there’s nothing to fear from the
boom and doesn’t subscribe to the view that it
advantages the few. “I’m a strong believer in a
mining economy and I take a lot of pride in the
investments in infrastructure that have been made
by successive governments of both persuasions
that helped build the state.”
It’s this no-nonsense approach that’s g aining
plaudits from both sides of the political divide. He
recently chaired a high-level g overnment taskforce
that recommended all-encompassing changes
to temporary migration, to make it easier for
companies to address worker shortages.
“What a lot of businesses do is simply stand
and wave their arms and they don’t engage,”
he says. “You have to engag e. You have to
talk and build a plan.” S
Gary Gray on...
She took the reins at a really difficult time
and has been prepared to do the hard yards.
She makes the personal sacrifice that
helps make the government work.
I’ve always had a high regard for Colin
as an intellect and as a West Australian.
Colin has never wavered in his faith in
a modern, resource-based economy.
He was an outstanding treasurer. Eric
never had the funds to play with that
the current state government has.
Eric was the treasurer at a time of
declining state revenues and increasing
obligations and he managed his way
through that with massive skill.
He is a man who clearly wants to be the
prime minister. Tony is a different kind of
politician. He’s very much an aggressive,
conviction-politician. He’s a good person,
but I disagree with many of his views. His
lack of willingness to contemplate a flood
levy shows he doesn’t quite ‘get’ economics
or national leadership.
Paul and I often had our differences of
opinion, which we could express openly
between ourselves. I’ve always been one to
prefer clarity. And Paul was certainly one
who preferred clarity. His term as prime
minister is one that he can be proud of but
I always thought we could have done better.
In many ways, Peter is a disappointment.
He has a tremendous ability as a politician
but was never really able to rise up and make
it work for him at a time when he should
have been prepared to challenge John
Howard. And when John Howard needed
him to be prepared to do that, Peter wasn’t
prepared to do it. I’ve always seen Peter
as a man with a glass jaw.
His prime ministership was important for
Australia. Without his strength and incisive
decision-making we would not have been
able to keep Woodside as an Australian
company. Australians have a lot of respect
for John Howard, and politicians who don’t
understand that make a big mistake.
Bob is the greatest of our post-war prime
ministers. I don’t say that just because he’s
the Labor guy, I say it because he took the
really hard decisions that we needed to take
and I have tremendous regard for him.
Barnaby Joyce & Brendon Grylls
I think Barnaby’s a genuine disappointment.
There is a place for insightful, creative,
strong members of the National Party and
I think Brendon Grylls does that. He’s a
thoughtful, hard-working member of a
party that he has breathed new life into.
I see Barnaby as being one of the forces
that sucks the life out of that party.
“Frank and unsentimental, this
life-long unionist recently called
a union leader ‘a gigantic fool’”
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