Poll po­si­tion

Sky News an­chor Laura Jayes on sur­viv­ing the lead­er­ship wars and join­ing the break­fast TV bat­tle

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Front Page -

IN the eye of the storm that was the Lib­eral Party lead­er­ship spill last month, Laura Jayes re­ceived an un­ex­pected text from her fa­ther that broke the ten­sion and light­ened her mood.

Live on air be­side her Sky News col­leagues David Speers and Kieran Gilbert, the trio were well into an­other 10-hour day and sweat­ing on news from in­side the se­cond party room spill that would de­liver Aus­tralia its sixth prime min­is­ter in al­most as many years.

Grip­ping her mo­bile phone as they all awaited the fi­nal num­bers from sources within, up popped a mes­sage from her dad to put the drama in per­spec­tive, which read: “Do you want me to put the bins out, darl?”

Jayes had to hide her ex­as­per­a­tion dur­ing the tele­cast, but tells TV Guide later, “I just thought, ‘ I love you Dad.’ The world has moved on and my fam­ily had no in­ter­est in what was go­ing on,” she laughs.

“It’s quite lovely ac­tu­ally, be­cause you can get wrapped up in it all … at least I do be­cause I love it.”

The 34-year- old – who di­vides her time be­tween her home in Syd­ney and par­lia­men­tary sit­ting weeks in the na­tional cap­i­tal – rel­ishes her bal­anced life out­side of the “Can­berra bub­ble.”

While she is sheep­ish about rais­ing her 18-month- old daugh­ter So­phie with Seven News re­porter hus­band Alex Hart on a steady diet of “The Wig­gles and Sky News … the poor kid,” weekly din­ners ev­ery Wed­nes­day with her ex­tended fam­ily keep this TV cou­ple grounded “in real life.”

Of course, there are times like the lead­er­ship spill where the job is all-per­va­sive, with Jayes ex­plain­ing how she jug­gled par­ent­ing du­ties with prepa­ra­tion for the big­gest po­lit­i­cal earth­quake to hit this year.

“I had taken So­phie to the snow for the week­end [be­fore], just her and I,” the for­mer ski in­struc­tor re­veals, “and I was driv­ing back and just hit the phones for three hours. I called and called and called [party con­tacts] and it was the per­fect time to do it. So­phie was in the back sleep­ing and I could get on with the job, it was great.”

There’s more jug­gling to come for Jayes, who will join Gilbert in an­chor­ing Sky’s re­vamped f lag­ship break­fast pro­gram First Edi­tion each morn­ing from 5am. The duo will also cover the live pol­i­tics of the day, co-host­ing AM Agenda from 8.30am. Along with Speers, the trio earned plau­dits for their rolling cov­er­age of the lead­er­ship cri­sis, dis­tin­guished by their solid sources who helped them break the big­gest an­gles of the day, from across the war­ring fac­tions.

Jayes kept a “no-non­sense” ap­proach to re­sist­ing the “pro­pa­ganda ma­chine” dur­ing the chaos.

“I sat down with Speersy and KG once this all kicked off and I said, and they agreed, our in­tegrity here is as im­por­tant as any­thing else and a lot of peo­ple [on other chan­nels] will be jump­ing at shad­ows, so let’s just

make sure what we put to air and on the screen is di­rect from the source,” she says. “[Our au­di­ence] feel like they’re in­sid­ers and they re­ally are be­cause our job is not to hold any­thing back, but our job is also not to get played ei­ther.”

Gilbert is con­fi­dent the pair are “in a good po­si­tion to have a red-hot go” in their new break­fast times­lot; heap­ing praise on Jayes’ work ethic and im­pact.

“For me, it’s an hon­our to work with her,” he says.

“Laura is one of the sharpest po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ists go­ing around. I was go­ing to say of her gen­er­a­tion, but I think she is full stop. She’s so in­sight­ful.” The se­nior Sky News jour­nal­ists weath­ered heat over the chan­nel’s de­ci­sion to in­vite far-right na­tion­al­ist Blair Cot­trell on air as a guest of The Adam Giles Show (shelved in the fall­out).

Jayes showed her steel dur­ing the furore, de­nounc­ing Cot­trell as “not an ac­tivist but an a---hole.”

“I was start­ing to get ques­tioned about whether I en­dorsed it and I’d like to say I’m not the moral au­thor­ity on Sky. I kind of re­sent the fact peo­ple go, ‘ Well, if you don’t dis­tance your­self then you must agree with them’ … but that’s not true ei­ther,” she ar­gues.

“But on this oc­ca­sion, I stand by what I said. I’m a lady and wouldn’t nor­mally use such lan­guage but I was just re­ally pas­sion­ate about that. You know why? Be­cause I love my job and I ac­tu­ally re­ally love Sky.

“I think it holds an im­por­tant place in the po­lit­i­cal land­scape, how­ever big or small we are.

“Our de­trac­tors will say our rat­ings are so small that we don’t mat­ter, then they use them against us when they say we’ve got too much in­flu­ence. I mean, you can’t have it both ways.”



Sky News an­chor Laura Jayes rel­ishes her bal­anced life out­side of the “Can­berra bub­ble”; right, with her Seven News re­porter hus­band Alex Hart and their 18-month-old daugh­ter So­phie.

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