Bronwen Griffiths is the Cabinet Secretary to the first elected female State Premier in the history of Australian Federation.
The role of the Cabinet Secretary is not easily defined, suffice to say that information is power and power opens a lot of doors.
Educated at the University of Queensland or UQ as the locals refer to the century-old learning centre, Bronwen sought and found the freedom that most teenagers yearned. Reading books, absorbing poetry, listening to Rock n Roll music and having little care for the challenges of tomorrow dominated her youth.
Now, as a Mother of the two-year-old Angharad (a very old Welsh name meaning Well Loved), those carefree days may now just be a distant memory. Despite reaching lofty heights in her professional career, the social embarrassment of having to deal with the tantrums of a two-year-old with a penchant for throwing herself on the ground in the middle of the road has Bronwen well-focussed on her priorities.
Although she was quick to point out that the antics of daughter ‘Harry’ does run in the family. Nowadays Bronwen relies on parental advice from her Mother and a sister, who has four children of her own, to get meet the challenges of motherhood.
I asked Bronwen what the difference was between a child throwing a tantrum and a politician with the same enthusiasm for getting their own way. Her answer led me to believe that a Cabinet Secretary’s role rests with the ability to treat information and discussion confidential. Bronwen’s success is largely due to her ability to immerse herself in the cut and thrust of policy whilst holding tightly to the reigns of a very demanding role.
A savvy woman with her finger on the pulse of political action in Queensland, Bronwen is not easily pigeon-holed. A feminist who thinks herself more of a humanist, she has strong views and beliefs about the role and men and women in society. ‘I’m not one of those feminists who think that if women ran the world it would be a better place’, she also believes ‘that men do not have a monopoly on bad behaviour’. ‘I don’t think if women ran Parliament that Parliament would be better behaved … Parliament is about politics it’s not about gender’.
Bronwen has worked closely with the Premier in their previous working lives.
Anna Bligh winning the State election was ‘absolutely fantastic to see her do that’. That win more than anything that has happened of late in Queensland ‘normalises women’, according to Bronwen.
Perhaps like most politicians and a lot of public servants Bronwen views the media’s role with healthy scepticism. The sense that the media is a shining white knight for the community does not sit well with our Cabinet Secretary. The relationship between those who would stand behind the microphone and those before it can be a volatile mix in their par-de-deux. The consequences for us who vote is the promises that ensue. ‘Good decision-making can really suffer from the pressure to have decisions made quickly.’
Apart from playing the odd game of netball, collecting Black Lady lamps from the sixties and being a regular visitor to Brisbane plethora or flea markets and garage sales, Bronwen considers herself to be an uncomplicated woman who enjoys cooking complicated meals.
Who knows, perhaps when the Sun sets on her career as Cabinet Secretary, Bronwen may yet become our very own Nigella Lawson.