Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ted Baillieu's Mr Unforgettable

Meet Michael Kapel, the man who "runs" Victoria's (rrrabidly anti-BDS) Baillieu government:

"Now chief of staff to Premier Baillieu, Kapel has more than the Premier's ear. There are those who wonder whether this intense 48-year-old economic conservative and social moderate actually runs this government, or comes close to it. Others suggest that the Premier has simply found a perfect ally in Kapel, someone who shares his values and understands his quirks and leadership style. As one colleague put it: 'Michael just gets him'. Kapel prefers being the backroom player - he declined an interview for this story - but he has been embroiled in unusual controversy in the state government's first year, disliked by some, admired by others. No one denies that he is now one of the most influential people in Victoria. Officially, it is Kapel's job to manage the Premier's private office, hire and fire, oversee policy, devise strategy, offer Baillieu advice and watch the Premier's back. In reality, some Liberal MPs argue - none on the record - that the government is too centralised, with all roads leading to Kapel. They blame him for the fact it took months for the government to appoint ministerial staff - he was on the selection committee and vetted every appointment." (The man behind the man in charge, Farrah Tomazin & David Rood, The Age, 27/11/11)

But there's more. Much more:

"Few people in the Liberal Party say they really know Kapel; fewer claim to understand him. He's the son of French Holocaust survivors who grew up in a left-leaning home, which imbued in him a fierce sense of social justice and racial tolerance. A neo-conservative on foreign policy who in the 1990s edited the Australia/Israel Review*, he campaigned against the emergence of the far right in national politics. He's a man who is loyal to those he trusts, and receives loyalty in return. He's a staffer so close to the Premier that last year Baillieu serenaded the guests at Kapel's wedding with a version of Nat King Cole's Unforgettable... His work as editor of the Review in the 1990s was a defining period. The magazine - which covers Israeli and Jewish affairs - broke major stories: the inner workings of the American anti-semitic LaRouche organisation; suspected Nazi war criminals living in Australia; exposes about Holocaust denier David Irving; and the rise of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party." (ibid)

[*The magazine of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).]

For those interested in joining dots, please read my posts Criminalising BDS (9/8/11), and We Need to Talk About Ted (10/8/11). Just click on the Ted Baillieu label below.

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