Saturday, June 20, 2009

So, who exactly is Andrew Charlton?

People want to know

The 30-year old wizz kid at the centre of the storm in the Prime Minister's office about lobbying for a Brisbane car dealer is "ruthlessly ambitious, hellbent on pursuing a career in politics and hellbent on one day becoming Prime Minister himself".

And that's the assessment of one of his friends.

It might also be Kevin Rudd's assessment. When launching Andrew Charlton's book about the Howard years Ozonomics in 2007 the then Opposition Leader joked about the 27 year old's arrogance.

Shortly after winning office Mr Rudd offered him a job.

A networker par excellence Andrew Charlton managed to get his book endorsed by celebrities as diverse as The Chaser's Dominic Knight and the Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz.

He had previously co-authored a book with Stiglitz (his friends say Charlton did the bulk of the work), translated into 13 languages.

He has also worked for short stints as a United Nations economist, an OECD economist and as an economics columnist for the Sunday Age...

Political while at university, he was elected to the Sydney University Senate and became part of a campaign to unseat its Chancellor Dame Leonie Kramer.

Although initially not strongly committed to either side of politics, "as soon as he did commit to the Labor Party he became something of a partisan zealot".

These days "highly political", and "absolutely committed to the Prime Minister," for two years he dated Katherine Keating, daughter of the former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating.

His role in Kevin Rudd's office is hands-on. He has been personally involved in decisions about how to react to the unfolding global financial crisis every step of the way, including decisions about the government's bank guarantees and the establishment of OzCar, the special purpose vehicle for car dealer financing now under the microscope.

Malcom Turnbull may be sincere when says he was offering Charlton "helpful advice" at this week's Parlaimentary Mid-Winter Ball when he told him not to lie in order to protect the Prime Minister. Charlton has a future.