Moves are afoot to parachute a former Alexander Downer staffer into the blue ribbon WA Liberal seat of Pearce.

Once
held by Liberal luminary Fred Chaney and now by former Howard minister
Judi Moylan, Pearce is being seriously eyed off by Brad Haynes, a
former Downer staffer who now works for energy giant Chevron, whose
Perth office is becoming a half-way house for ambitious former federal
Liberal staffers. Also safely ensconced at Chevron is former Senator
Nick Minchin staffer and one-time director of the WA Liberal Party Paul
Everingham, a close pal of Haynes.

According to Perth’s Liberal grapevine, Haynes has already had serious
career-oriented chats with Moylan who is planning to depart Pearce for
greener pastures, possibility an overseas posting. One landing spot
being tipped is the ambassadorship to Beijing. Moylan has long had a
long-term interest in the Central Kingdom.

Moylan’s
ministerial career was brief. Between March 1996 and October 1998 she
held two portfolios – Family Services and Status of Women. Until
recently she’d been telling backers in Pearce she intended recontesting
the seat next federal election, but apparently that’s no longer her
game plan. She’s now in high gear selling Brad to local power brokers,
which means discrete lunches and get-togethers with the former Downer
staffer.

Haynes, who over the past few years has been billed as
a Downer senior adviser, also has an interest in East Asia having
visited North Korea with his minister. When he left Downer to join
Chevron one parliamentary gossip sheet gave him a hearty farewell.

“At
first we were aghast as, apart from Canberra losing an active and
spunky member of the social scene, we were concerned about Brad’s
gorgeous girl, Simone Burford,” it said. “The couple has already
endured a long-distance stint when Brad had a spell in Melbourne.

“The
good news is that Simone will accompany Brad to WA after she tidies up
a few bits and pieces in her high-powered role as IT adviser to the
Prime Minister. “Great, now we lose two scenesters!”

“The couple
threw a drinks party to celebrate with friends and colleagues.
Delicious food and wines were served.” If Haynes and Moylan can pull
off the Pearce preselection there’ll no doubt be more such functions in
the shadow of Parliament House.

CRIKEY: This is
interesting evidence of Downer’s tentacles spreading. A few years ago
Haynes, just like Downer’s daughter Georgina, was awarded a Chevening
scholarship by the British government. (He took leave from Downer’s
office to study in the UK). With Downer also reportedly pushing Joshua Frydenberg
in the Victorian seat of Kooyong – currently held by Petro Georgiou –
his support base looks to be on the move – although some party insiders
say Haynes is an opportunist and Downer might not be able to count on
his vote.

Peter Fray

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