Sky News anchor Laura Jayes on surviving the leadership wars and joining the breakfast TV battle
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.”
5AM, WEEKDAYS, SKY NEWS 
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.