We know Labor leader Kevin Rudd has a prodigious appetite for work as well as a prodigious ability to plough through the paperwork, but it’s also been interesting to hear reports about just how dog-tired he has seemed at a few functions recently.
There’s also talk that Rudd doesn’t always listen to advice, but it appears that he has paid attention to concerns abut how poorly his office was running when he dumped his chief of staff of just a few months, Simon Banks, and replaced him with David Epstein.
Banks was nice enough, but out of his depth. Epstein is just 44, but is a former head of the National Media Liaison Service — AniMaLs — and a former CoS to Kim Beazley. Party insiders say he has the right balance of energy and experience to get a leader’s office which needs some active attention running smoothly come election time.
The party has looked after Banks — he has “been appointed as Director of Strategic Communications at the National Campaign Headquarters” to be run out of Sydney, according to the media release — but insiders say he has to go.
Insiders also say the reasons given for his departure — an impending wedding and wanting to live in Sydney — aren’t exactly convincing, given he only took the Rudd job, which he knew would involve spending a lot of time in Canberra and on the road, a few months ago.
And there’s a certain irony in his new role, too, with some suggestions that Banks and National Secretary Tim Gartrell are not the best of friends.
Indeed, some Labor figures say that the head office could do with a shake up, too. They say Gartrell failed to deal with Mark Latham issues back in 2004. They have been surprised by the length of the new deal he signed when his contract was renewed. But they also point out that as the secretariat does the bidding of the NSW Right it remains well protected.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.