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Position vacant: Helping the opposition take on Daniel Andrews

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Victorian Liberal leader Michael O'Brien is seeking a media advisor after a surge in popularity for Premier Daniel Andrews (Image by Dan Jensen)

The Victorian Liberal Party is seeking an advisor to assist opposition leader Michael O'Brien, if anyone actually wants the job, writes Peter Wicks.

IF THERE IS ONE LEADER that has earned the trust of the population during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

The public hasn’t seen strong leadership like this since the bushfire crisis, when it was once again Daniel Andrews leading the way while our prime minister was off getting sunburnt in Hawaii. To his credit, however, Prime Minister Scott Morrison did shave a few hours off his holiday to come home for a media tour so he could try and force handshakes from first responders and victims.

To encourage handshakes, “Scotty From Marketing” pledged $2 billion in emergency bushfire funding. As the next fire season rapidly approaches, he has so far spent around $250 million.

Arguably, one of Daniel Andrews’s greatest achievements has been his government’s record of job creation after the train wreck the former Coalition left behind. Particularly in regional Victoria which has recorded the lowest unemployment figures since records began.

While COVID-19 will certainly reverse the downward unemployment rates in Victoria, this week, people can take comfort in the knowledge that the actions of Daniel Andrews are still creating jobs in Victoria.

I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on one of those jobs.

The job was being advertised this week on LinkedIn.

The role is for a media advisor in Opposition leader Michael O’Brien’s office. Clearly, Daniel Andrews is doing a job that means O’Brien needs all the help he can muster.

When people look for a new role there are some key aspects that are desirable:

  • a reputable employer;
  • job stability;
  • a challenging position;
  • to be part of a professional team; and
  • the opportunity to progress.

While the advertised position doesn’t offer a great deal in regard to most of these key aspects, it does nail one of them. It is certainly going to be a challenging position.

The role of improving Michael O’Brien’s public profile to a point where he may become vaguely palatable is certainly going to be a tough one. There are even unconfirmed rumours that Hollywood heavyweight Tom Cruise applied thinking it was an audition call for the next part in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

However, it is the other key aspects that may end up turning quality applicants away.

The “reputation of the employer” aspect is bit of a mixed bag, however, it’s not all bad. Ask around, as I have, and you’ll find Michael O’Brien has a pretty good reputation, with many saying they are yet to find a better fitter of car windscreens. That could be something to build on. The reputation of the Victorian Liberal Party has also been improved of late after going through a period recently with none of the state executives going to prison on fraud charges.

The stability of the position is not the greatest with the boss’s position looking about as stable as a two-legged dining table during an earthquake. About the only thing keeping Michael O’Brien in his position is the hopelessness of that position. That said, the position should be good until 26 November 2022, which is when the next Victorian election is due. His stumble towards that date must feel like a walk down the plank on a pirate ship.

Of course, the party may try and save some of the furniture and plunge the knife into the back of your prospective boss far enough ahead of an election to give someone else a chance to build their profile. There will be those who only just stumbled over the line last election who will be keen to see his political demise, people like Louise Staley MP, for example.

The opportunity to progress from this role will be entirely dependent on the views of those left after the next state election to fight over the scraps. The view could be that you “took one for the team” or, alternatively, that you were an ingredient in the disaster that was the O’Brien leadership team. All I can say is good luck rolling those dice.

On the brighter side, you will be a part of a professional team. You will join Joshua Morris who is listed as O’Brien’s ‘Regional Media Advisor’. If there was someone whose advice you would seek on regional media, it would be that of Josh.

Josh does have a stellar relationship with particular local councillors in Ballarat — some would say that is his one and only asset.

A few years ago, Josh Morris was an MP in the Victorian State Legislative Council, a position that was considered as safe as a Cayman Island tax haven. Josh had such a good feel for regional Victoria and such a solid understanding of his constituent’s needs that he went into the 2018 election certain that his reputation would secure a position in the Victorian Upper House.

He was right. Josh’s reputation secured a seat in the Victorian Upper House for Andy Meddick of the Animal Justice Party. Josh’s constituency sought out and voted for someone who was the polar opposite of Josh. It’s a decision they have not regretted at all, with the name Josh Morris proving to be more popular as a punchline than it ever was as a politician.

In his current role, Josh has succeeded in making Michael O’Brien one of the most popular things in regional Victoria, surpassed only by drought and bushfire.

That’s not to say Josh doesn’t know a thing or two about the media. He knows a bit about how to respond to leaks. Like when he was the chair of the parliamentary committee holding the Inquiry into the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Bill 2016 and someone leaked confidential information to the Herald Sun.

Sources allege Josh knew the best way to react to a parliament investigation needing a signed statutory declaration to say they didn’t leak from committee members was to resign from the committee rather than sign a stat dec. Clever boy, indeed.

With professionals of Josh’s calibre, you won’t be able to help but shine.

Anyway, if you need a job why not put in an application today? There are worse jobs.

You could be working for Tim Smith MP.

Peter Wicks is an Independent Australia columnist and a former Federal Labor Party staffer. You can follow him on Twitter @MadWixxy.

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