Federal Politics

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The up-and-comers of election 2013

With an election certain to be called and held this year, voters can expect to see much of the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader and their hardy bunch of frontbenchers.

But apart from the usual suspects - the Bill Shortens and Christopher Pynes of Parliament, who will be used by their parties to sell positive policies to voters - expect to see a lot more of lesser-known players. These up-and-comers will be increasingly tasked with taking the fight to their political foes, according to the Liberal strategist Mark Textor.

He says apart from the ''established players'' (Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Scott Morrison, Julie Bishop, the finance spokesman, Andrew Robb, and the communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull), we might see more of some junior talents this year, ''while the lead group focus on communicating positive policy''.

These politicians include Paul Fletcher, the member for Bradfield on the north shore, and Josh Frydenberg, the member for Kooyong in Melbourne's east.

The South Australian Liberal senator Simon Birmingham is bright and engaging, and will be used a lot in his home state, particularly for pressing local issues such as the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

The Coalition adviser also named the West Australian senator Mathias Cormann as a good communicator familiar to West Australian voters.


A Labor insider said the true muscle for this year's campaign would be borne by the NSW secretary, Sam Dastyari, and the national secretary, George Wright. If the duo manage to retain crucial seats in western Sydney, the insider said, they would go down in Labor history as the men who saved the election.

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, was hesitant to name ''stars'' but mentioned Peter Garrett in education and Jenny Macklin and Tanya Plibersek in the families and health portfolios. Mr Swan said the Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, ''had a really good year last year''.

''There will be pretty strong involvement right across the front bench, particularly from Shorten in industrial relations … I think [Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's] modern equivalent of WorkChoices will be flushed out as the year goes through and I think Shorten will do that.''

The managing director of the Labor-aligned government relations firm Hawker Britton, Justin Di Lollo, said if the ALP lost the election, Bill Shorten would most likely be voted in as leader.

Consequently, he would be used during the 2013 election campaign ''around the base'', Mr Di Lollo said.

''He will be pounding the streets at street level rather than being on television too much.''

He also nominates Mark Butler, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, as ''one to keep an eye on''.

''This guy's destined for bigger things and will likely be the next poster-child of the Left,'' Mr Di Lollo says. ''Keeps a low profile but is increasingly influential.''

The Hawker Britton director Simon Banks nominated Ms Plibersek, Mr Garrett and Mr Shorten.

Mr Banks expects the Coalition will run with a tighter team - Mr Abbott, Mr Hockey, Ms Bishop and Mr Morrison.

John Wanna, a professor of politics at the Australian National University, has what you might call a dim view of any potential political ''stars'' of 2013.

''The Labor and the Coalition frontbench are buffoons,'' he says.

''There is so much celebrity politics, the Chris Pynes and Craig Emersons. Bill Shorten could be good but he tends to speak without being briefed.''

In the vein of celebrity politics, expect to see a lot of Bob Katter. The irascible maverick MP's Australian Party will run a candidate in every seat at the federal election but he will be the party's focus, with most of his candidates virtual unknowns.

For the Greens, Adam Bandt has had a meteoric rise to deputy leader in his first term.