Brendan Murphy named third most powerful person in Australia

By Shannon Jenkins

October 2, 2020

Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy
Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens has topped AFR Magazine‘s list of Australia’s most covertly powerful people for the third consecutive year.

The strong level of trust between Gaetjens and Prime Minister Scott Morrison — who was named Australia’s most powerful person — has been repeatedly cited as a key indicator of the senior mandarin’s influence.

The top 10 covert list also included Office of National Intelligence director-general Nick Warner, ranked fourth, and Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy, ranked ninth.

Jane Halton, former Health and Finance secretary and a commissioner on the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission, took out tenth place. Halton’s colleague, commission chair Nev Power, was ranked seventh.

Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy was the only public servant to make it onto the list of the top 10 most powerful people in Australia, following Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in third place.

As Australia’s chief medical officer, Murphy led the federal government’s response to COVID-19 as both a key policy advisor and spokesperson. While Murphy was originally scheduled to take on the role of secretary in early 2020, the pandemic delayed his promotion until July.

Premiers Gladys Berejiklian, Daniel Andrews, and Mark McGowan also cracked the top 10 most powerful, along with health minister Greg Hunt and Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

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