National power rankings aren’t supposed to go like this. The new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull comes first, and then someone very close to him – a minister or advisor – typically comes next.
But Mike Baird is not your typical state premier. The 47-year-old surf-loving former investment banker who commands embarrassing poll approval ratings has, just this year, won an election, altered the course of national debate on taxation reform, and live-tweeted the finale of the The Bachelor to critical acclaim.
Today he’s been named the second most powerful person in the country in the Power List by the Australian Financial Review.
Baird’s ranking puts him ahead of deputy leader of the Liberal Party and foreign minister, Julie Bishop.
The AFR says: “He’s not only invigorated the reform agenda in his own state but is having a national influence. His ability to link potentially unpopular reforms to the long-term good of the community is proving to be a great strength. As a result he is helping to restore faith in political leaders and in the capacity of government to make a difference.”
One of the judges, the former senior ALP minister Martin Ferguson, says Baird is “the outstanding political leader in Australia at the moment”.
Earlier this month Baird spoke with Business Insider on a range of policy issues but also about how he is trying to lead a different style of government. Here’s an excerpt:
You can read the full interview, where Baird talks about taxation, date night, and startups, here.
And the AFR’s full power list, featuring the Liberal backbench at No.4 and Scott Morrison at No.6 in the “overt power” section, is here.
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