Stephen Newnham

Stephen Newnham played a pivotal role in key ALP election successes for close to two decades. As State Secretary of the Victorian branch of the ALP, Stephen masterminded Steve Bracks’ election win in 2006 during which he was the party’s campaign director and strategist.

Stephen also co-ordinated Labor’s 2007 federal election campaign in Victoria which achieved the highest proportion of ALP seats in any mainland state.

Stephen’s uncompromising, clear-headed style is characterised by a determination to achieve success and the use of unorthodox and innovative ideas and tactics.

Methods developed during Stephen’s four-year tenure as the Victorian ALP state director include successful trials of the first market-based and intuitive polling used in Australian politics.

His unflappable results-driven philosophy paid dividends for the Labor Party in key by-elections including the Albert Park and Williamstown wins in 2007 and the Kororoit win in 2008.

During his 17-year association with the Labor Party, Stephen worked as an adviser to former Premier and then Treasurer and Minister for Regional Development Minister John Brumby and as a senior adviser to then Finance Minister, John Lenders.

During Stephen’s time in government he was involved in the establishment of the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund, public sector relocations, the controversial deregulation of the export barley market and trail-blazing, controversial public liability insurance reforms.

Stephen has extensive contacts with senior ALP figures across the political spectrum at all levels of government. He has also developed strong bonds with key figures in the Victorian business community.

Unusually for a Labor operative, Stephen’s formative years were spent on a cattle farm in Gippsland and he has an understanding of regional Australia that is becoming increasingly uncommon with the consolidation of political power and policy in Canberra and the constantly increasing populations of Sydney and Melbourne.

Stephen’s background, political experience and innovative polling techniques give him a rare combination that can deliver both pin-point analysis and ways to achieve effective results.

Rick Brown

In the front-line of Australia’s top political strategists, Rick Brown has a reputation across the political divide for being a first-rate analyst, thinker and communicator.

He is a proven tactician and organiser and over three decades has been the behind-the-scenes architect of many highly successful and effective campaigns and strategies.

A lawyer by training, Rick Brown’s early career was spent in Papua New Guinea’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He also worked in the Australian trade union movement for a decade as an official and advocate.Rick was national secretary of the Council for the National Interest, an organisation established by a group of eminent Australians including Sir Arvi Parbo, Peter Henderson, Sir Charles Court, Dame Leonie Kramer, Laurie Short and Bob Santamaria to raise awareness of long-term challenges facing Australia. He was also the founding editor of the specialist quarterly journal

Australia and World Affairs.

Rick was a member of the RMIT Council for 13 years and a director of the university’s commercial company during a period of great expansion and successfully led the opposition to a federal- and state-government sponsored amalgamation with two other institutions.

In 1999 Rick became Victorian director of the “No Republic” campaign; he personally devised the “Vote No to the Politicians’ Republic” slogan, and played a lead role in the development of the national strategy which underpinned the defeat of the referendum and an unexpected majority No vote in Victoria.

Subsequently Rick worked as an adviser to Russell Savage, one of the three Independent MPs who held sway during the first term of the Bracks Government between 2000 and 2002.

During this period, he helped influence key decisions such as the structure of Victoria’s Legislative Council and instigated landmark pieces of legislation, including terminal gate pricing.

Between 2004 and 2007 Rick worked as an adviser to Senator Nick Minchin and as a senior adviser to Kevin Andrews. He played a pivotal role in devising and implementing the Coalition’s timber campaign and campaign against the Greens in the 2004 federal election which culminated in the celebrated Launceston rally. Rick was actively involved in the affairs of the Anglican Church of Melbourne for 20 years, serving on various committees including the committee responsible for identifying and short-listing candidates for position of the Archbishop of Melbourne on two occasions.