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Smyth appointment a bombshell for Libs

By Charlotte Harper - 15 July 2016 15

Brendan Smyth

The ACT Government has struck a significant blow to the Canberra Liberals just weeks before the ACT election by appointing Deputy Opposition Leader Brendan Smyth to a plum public service job that could’ve been designed just for him, he is so well qualified for it: he will be the Canberra’s first commissioner for international engagement from Monday, August 1.

Given Mr Smyth’s high profile and standing in his electorate of Brindabella and across the city more broadly, and his significant experience in the public sphere, he will be a major loss for the party as it ramps up its campaign to oust the Barr Government in October.

The loss will be felt all the more because it has come so suddenly. The Government only announced that it would appoint someone to the newly conceived international engagement role on Monday, so it is likely that Mr Smyth’s decision has caught everyone, including his colleagues, by surprise. Indeed when we contacted ACT Electoral Commissioner Phil Green about the news this morning, he had yet to hear of Mr Smyth’s decision, and was therefore unable to provide any official comment.

If Chief Minister Andrew Barr and his team did create this role specifically to lure Mr Smyth out of politics and into the public service deliberately, they will be very pleased with themselves today. They will have in one fell swoop removed on of their most popular and talented competitors from game, while also appointing a highly skilled, qualified and regarded operator into a role that fits in with a key component of their own re-election platform: positioning Canberra as a world city.

The Canberra Business Chamber’s Robyn Hendry has already issued a statement endorsing the appointment, saying,”We believe that in his new role as Commissioner, Brendan will be a tireless advocate for business. Over the life of his political career, Brendan has distinguished himself as an ambassador for our region, with a long term outlook and understanding that goes beyond the policies of any one term of Parliament – in Government or Opposition.”

Mr Smyth has represented Canberrans locally and Federally. He has a track record of representing the capital overseas, including being part of establishing Canberra’s sister city relationship with Beijing. He has been in the Assembly for 18 years. He was a minister in the Carnell Government and Deputy Chief Minister in the Humphries Government. In the current Jeremy Hanson-led Opposition, Mr Smyth has responsibility for the high profile treasury and business and economic development portfolios in addition to arts, tourism, higher education, industrial relations, emergency services and gaming and racing.

His is a legacy the Canberra Liberals can rightly be proud of, and the citizens of Canberra will recognise Mr Smyth’s contribution to political life as a committed and valued one.

But today, the Canberra Liberals are left with two holes to fill. They need to find a replacement on the Liberal ticket for Brindabella for the upcoming election, and ensure that their candidate to replace Mr Smyth in the Assembly between now and the election, Val Jeffery, is prepared to be part of the count back and join the Assembly for its remaining sitting weeks next month.

The phones at Canberra Liberals HQ in Geils Court, Deakin and in the Mr Hanson’s office in the Assembly will be running hot today.

What’s Your opinion?


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15 Responses to
Smyth appointment a bombshell for Libs
Acton 5:48 pm 21 Jul 16

It’s not often that I agree with John Hargreaves, but on this issue we share the view that the Canberra community is being exploited. Barr, Smyth and all who condone this fail to see that it is wrong (on many levels) for the political party in office to use public funds to buy off an elected political opponent with a contrived, noncompeditive, lucrative and unnecessary appointment simply to enhance its own prospects for remaining in office.
Taken to its extreme the political party in office with access to enough funds could buy off all its elected opponents ensuring perpetual control over government and subverting the whole democratic process. Roll on the Democratic People’s Republic of Canberra with President for Life Barr.
If anyone hasn’t seen it and particularly for the benefit of those who would laugh off this shabby deal and don’t comprehend or care about a cynical at best, corrupt at worst, use of our funds:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/former-labor-minister-john-hargreaves-blasts-brendan-smyth-appointment-20160720-gq9m4j.html

gooterz 3:03 pm 18 Jul 16

Charlotte Harper said :

Everyone is up in arms about Labor under-cutting the Libs with this appointment, which is probably the end result, but no one is faulting Smyth for applying for or accepting the appointment.

Surely, if this was bad for the Liberals and therefore, in their opinion, bad for the ACT because it reduces the Liberal’s chance of winning, then it is incumbent on Smyth not to apply for or accept the position because doing so is putting his own self-interest ahead of the ACT’s?

It’s made it rather awkward for the Liberal party to argue that the position is completely surplus to requirements (probable) and just a paid-junket position, when one of their core representatives has decided it is a worthy enough position to take up…

Effective politics by Labor, but only enabled by Smyths acceptance

That would be ex representative.

I’m sure someone raising a family would have an obligation to that family first when the money on the table is substantial.

Key difference between Labor and Liberal plans is that Liberals are usually selling the idea, e.g, better public transport. Where Labor is selling the thing. This person, that person, light rail.

It really shouldn’t matter who is in your party if the ideas in the party remain the same.
Switching from Gillard to Rudd and Tony to Malcolm didn’t change a damn thing really.

Ghettosmurf87 12:42 pm 18 Jul 16

Everyone is up in arms about Labor under-cutting the Libs with this appointment, which is probably the end result, but no one is faulting Smyth for applying for or accepting the appointment.

Surely, if this was bad for the Liberals and therefore, in their opinion, bad for the ACT because it reduces the Liberal’s chance of winning, then it is incumbent on Smyth not to apply for or accept the position because doing so is putting his own self-interest ahead of the ACT’s?

It’s made it rather awkward for the Liberal party to argue that the position is completely surplus to requirements (probable) and just a paid-junket position, when one of their core representatives has decided it is a worthy enough position to take up…

Effective politics by Labor, but only enabled by Smyths acceptance

rommeldog56 9:09 am 18 Jul 16

Charlotte Harper said :

Certainly, and strangely, a smart political move by Barr. And if the Lib’s Smyth is replaced by a Labor or Greens candidate on a count back for 2 weeks or so until the election in October, then an interesting period ahead – until that new Labor/Greens person is probably turfed out at the election.

However, the loss of the personal vote that goes to Smyth (as a long standing Liberal MLA) will weaken further the Lib’s chances (as slim as they were already in my view) of forming Government in the ACT LA election.

So, this action of, in haste, creating this position to entice Smyth out of the Legislative Assembly (which is a deal that would have been set up before that position was created !) and which Smyth, accepted) actually undermines or perverts the democratic process.

Just goes to show that this ACT Labor/Greens Govt, and Barr in particular are so arrogant and comfortable that they will not lose power here now, that they think they can do anything…….

Might as well just declare that ACT Labor wins the next 5 Legislative Assembly elections right now and save Ratepayers the $ of paying the political parties $8 (or is it $6 ?) for every vote they get. Maybe that saving can go to the tram debt or to pay Mr Smyth’s salary, expenses and staff cost.

And what will ACT voters and ratepayers do about all this and the ACT Labor/Greens appalling track record of poor Governance and fiscal priority setting ? Nothing – except reward ACT Labor/Greens with another term.

The lib’s Val Jeffery will apparently replace Smyth in the ACT Legislative Assembly, so the vacancy for about 2 weeks will not now be filled by a Labor or Greens candidate.

HenryBG 10:15 am 16 Jul 16

TuggLife said :

I’m curious to know why you’d say Smyth is well qualified for this role. I’m also curious why the ALP would have any great interest in getting him out of politics where he’s been pretty ineffective for years. Why replace a known mediocrity with maybe someone actually useful (I know with the Liberals this is unlikely, but it is a small possibility)?

I’d also like to think a job like this would be paid a modest base salary with incentives based on the value of business brought in to Canberra … but being public sector I can’t imagine that happening.

If the ACT Government ever applied productivity metrics to their employees, we’d probably see the cost of running said government at least halve.
In other words, not going to happen.

John Moulis 9:49 am 16 Jul 16

“Commissioner for International Engagement”. Politician speak for junkets to New Zealand every few weeks and holidays in South East Asia during Canberra winters. Still, it makes a change from that pastime we had in the 1980s of seeing government Z cars at beaches on the south coast and dobbing them in to the Murdoch newspapers.

rommeldog56 8:42 am 16 Jul 16

Certainly, and strangely, a smart political move by Barr. And if the Lib’s Smyth is replaced by a Labor or Greens candidate on a count back for 2 weeks or so until the election in October, then an interesting period ahead – until that new Labor/Greens person is probably turfed out at the election.

However, the loss of the personal vote that goes to Smyth (as a long standing Liberal MLA) will weaken further the Lib’s chances (as slim as they were already in my view) of forming Government in the ACT LA election.

So, this action of, in haste, creating this position to entice Smyth out of the Legislative Assembly (which is a deal that would have been set up before that position was created !) and which Smyth, accepted) actually undermines or perverts the democratic process.

Just goes to show that this ACT Labor/Greens Govt, and Barr in particular are so arrogant and comfortable that they will not lose power here now, that they think they can do anything…….

Might as well just declare that ACT Labor wins the next 5 Legislative Assembly elections right now and save Ratepayers the $ of paying the political parties $8 (or is it $6 ?) for every vote they get. Maybe that saving can go to the tram debt or to pay Mr Smyth’s salary, expenses and staff cost.

And what will ACT voters and ratepayers do about all this and the ACT Labor/Greens appalling track record of poor Governance and fiscal priority setting ? Nothing – except reward ACT Labor/Greens with another term.

Ian 11:17 pm 15 Jul 16

I’m curious to know why you’d say Smyth is well qualified for this role. I’m also curious why the ALP would have any great interest in getting him out of politics where he’s been pretty ineffective for years. Why replace a known mediocrity with maybe someone actually useful (I know with the Liberals this is unlikely, but it is a small possibility)?

I’d also like to think a job like this would be paid a modest base salary with incentives based on the value of business brought in to Canberra … but being public sector I can’t imagine that happening.

rosscoact 10:39 pm 15 Jul 16

This is the funniest thing for ages. I laughed when I heard the announcement and then laughed again when I read the slightly hysterical responses on other threads (this one is quite genteel), I am reminded of the song I sang my kids.

‘And the dogs are barking
woof woof woof
and the cat’s meowing,
meow meow meow,
and everybody’s shouting,
Stop that Noise!
as they wheel round and round’

Thank you to the reliable few, you have made my day.

Acton 8:57 pm 15 Jul 16

A conversation that may have taken place:
AB: What will it take to get you to defect?
BS: A cushy job with lots of travel. I’ve always wanted to be an ambassador.
AB: Hmm. Well we’re only a local government council so can’t make you an ambassador. But how about we create a cushy job with lots of travel, call it something ambassadorial like ‘Commissioner For International Engagement’, and only make it available to you with no other applicants to be considered for the job.
BS: OK but I want it in three days.
AB: Done.

HenryBG 7:57 pm 15 Jul 16

creative_canberran said :

In same same fell swoop they also admit there is talent among the Liberal party.

Since when have these kind of plum jobs been given to anybody with talent?

HiddenDragon 5:55 pm 15 Jul 16

After all those years in the Assembly, and given the choice between taking a leading role in cleaning up the Augean Stables or being a wandering minstrel (albeit a most exalted wandering minstrel) representing the Coldest Little Capital, Brendan can hardly be blamed for doing what he has done.

Mysteryman 4:45 pm 15 Jul 16

Wow. Creating a position, inviting a senior Lib MLA to apply for it the same day, and then giving it to him 2 days later. Barr is in panic mode and now he’s doing anything he can to scuttle the Libs in the lead up to the next election.

I’m impressed by his manoeuvring. Not impressed by his willingness to waste our money on a position that’s unnecessary just so he can cling desperately to a job he’s not suited for.

gooterz 1:17 pm 15 Jul 16

In same same fell swoop they also admit there is talent among the Liberal party.

Garfield 12:25 pm 15 Jul 16

Just a quick note for accuracy, Brendan hasn’t been the Deputy Leader for the last three years, it’s been Alistair Coe. I wonder if the party room dumping him for Coe has anything to do with his willingness to leave 3 months before the next election?

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