Before this week, most people probably had no idea who Helen Perrottet was, and given her lack of social media presence, she probably liked it that way.
But being the wife of the new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet means she will have to adapt to life in the public eye.
The attention given to her husband’s backstory means many will already know Ms Perrottet is the mother of six children.
The size of their loving family has been a hot topic in recent days with many wondering how they will juggle raising six young children while occupying the highest office in the state.
But few would know Ms Perrottet is a former Australian Federal Police officer, worked in public relations for the Australian Defence Force, studied the law at night and is now a high-powered solicitor.
Helen (left) and Dominic (right) Perrottet on their wedding day. The couple has since had six children
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and his wife Helen with four of their six children
If you were paying close attention to NSW politics when the Coalition won a landslide victory in 2011 you would have heard Ms Perrottet mentioned in her husband’s maiden speech to Parliament.
Mr Perrottet said everyone present owed a lot to their families. ‘My amazing wife, Helen, knows the demands of work and family that we as Australians face in the twenty-first century,’ he said.
I certainly chose my wife. And I chose very well.
Dominic Perrottet in his maiden speech, after referring to how people can’t choose their parents
‘For many years while working full time in numerous jobs, including the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Defence Force, Helen also worked late into the night completing a law degree at night school.’
Mr Perrottet said his wife wanted to not only better herself, but also her community, and did so while juggling many roles.
‘Late into the night she applied herself to her studies and cared for her family. I am immensely proud of her as a talented professional, as a soul-mate, and above all as a mother who continues to give everything she has to her two children: Charlotte, who is here in the gallery today, and Amelia, who is due to be born in a few months.’
The couple has since had four more children: Annabelle, William, Harriet and Beatrice.
Dominic Perrottet (right) with his wife Helen (left) attend the Australian premiere of Hamilton at Lyric Theatre, Star City on March 27, 2021 in Sydney
In that first speech on May 31, 2011, the future Premier said that though he may not have been able to choose his parents, ‘I certainly chose my wife. And I chose very well’.
Mr Perrottet said his path to becoming elected to parliament had contained many peaks and troughs and that ‘throughout all of this my beautiful wife, Helen, has been there’.
‘She has supported me, advised me, and importantly been there to listen. Darling, you are my rock, and without you I would not be here today,’ he said.
More than a decade on, Mr Perrottet again thanked his wife and family upon his ascension to the top job, repeating: ‘To my wife, Helen, and my kids, without your love and support, I would not be here today’.
Ms Perrottet has worked in law in both the private and public sector for more than 16 years.
She joined Bicknell Law and Consulting as a senior associate in 2018, having previously worked for other law firms, including four years as a litigator and a stint as an associate to a Federal Circuit Court Judge.
The state’s new leader Mr Perrottet in a tuxedo (main) with his wife Helen and a friend
Helen Perrottet is a high-powered lawyer in Sydney
She also spent four years working in employment law and conducting workplace investigations.
Having also previously worked as a political adviser, Mrs Perrottet has extensive experience in advising government and industry groups in sectors such as hospitality, retail, cleaning, security, property management, churches and construction.
On top of her private practice work, Mrs Perrottet has provided legal services to the Australian Army since January 2014, with a focus on investigations, employment law and administrative law.
It’s not all work and family for her, though.
She is also a former winner of the Australian Beginner Championships of Ceroc Dancing – a blend of jive, ballroom and swing dancing.
But as her profile at Bicknell Law and Consulting says, ‘Fortunately, the pull of the law was too great, and Helen abandoned her dancing career to direct her creativity into resolving workplace issues with aplomb and flair.’
The family with then-Premier Mike Baird at a previous swearing in ceremony. Now Mr Perrottet is in charge
Helen Perrottet with two of her six children
Ms Perrottet has rarely spoken publicly about her husband’s political career, but has found her large loving family the subject of commentary in recent days.
‘On the one hand his family situation should have no bearing whatsoever,’ Nine’s Peter FitzSimons tweeted. ‘But on the other hand, if he was a 39 year-old woman with six kids it really would be front and centre.’
Mr Perrottet himself was asked about how he would juggle his family situation by Sky News’ Laura Jayes following his election by the Coalition party room on Tuesday.
Jayes pointed out a female in his position would be asked the same question – and put it on the new leader.
‘Well, it is demanding,’ Mr Perrottet responded. ‘I mean, being a father, like being a mother, when you have got family commitments, balancing work and family life is a challenge for every single person right across the state.
‘Ultimately, I think what I might lose in time, I gain in perspective, and everyone has the attributes, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and I am no different to that, but one thing I do know is that I have a very strong team around me.
‘I have a strong family and I have a strong ministerial team who will ensure that our focus is on the people of New South Wales, and that we come out stronger on the other side.’
In what is perhaps an insight into what Ms Perrottet thinks of suddenly being thrust into the spotlight, she ‘liked’ a tweet where a punter fired back at FitzSimons’s post.
‘Apparently, (Mr Perrottet’s) wife is an accomplished lawyer,’ the Twitter user said.
‘They are not pumping out rugrats that taxpayers will pick up the tab for.’
How Dom will ‘change’ NSW: Can-do Premier has BIG plans for ‘Freedom Day’, getting your kids back in the classroom – and claims he can make houses AFFORDABLE again (good luck with that!)
By Charlie Moore for Daily Mail Australia
Dominic Perrottet has outlined his priorities – and what will change in NSW – after he was sworn in the state’s 46th Premier on Tuesday afternoon.
The Catholic father of six and former Treasurer landed the top job on Tuesday in a one-sided vote in a meeting of Liberal Party MPs after Gladys Berejiklian resigned last Friday due to a corruption investigation.
In his first press conference as Premier-elect, Mr Perrottet said he will take the state ‘from good to great’ and focus on ‘keeping people safe, opening up the economy and securing our recovery’ after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here’s what we know so far about Mr Perrottet’s vision for the state.
Mr Perrottet said Sydney’s lockdown will end as planned on Monday despite speculation he could move ‘freedom day’ forward to Friday.
‘On Monday, the state opens up and we want to get people back into work, get business open again, and that is the focus of our government today,’ he said.
But the Premier-elect – who has long argued for lighter restrictions – said the re-opening plan may be tweaked because ‘there are a number of issues that need to be looked at.’
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (right) and his new Deputy Stuart Ayres ahead of being sworn in on TUesday
He was due to meet with Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant and Brad Hazzard on Tuesday afternoon.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia last month Mr Perrottet said he expected nightclubs to open at the 80 per cent vaccination rate – but under current plans they are closed until December 1.
He may also decide to bring forward the re-opening date of indoor pools which was pushed back from October 11 to December 1, causing outrage from concerned parents who say swimming lessons are essential.
Asked if NSW will ever need shutdowns again to stop Covid-19 spreading, Mr Perrottet said: ‘I don’t want to go back into lockdown.
‘From time to time, there may be the need for targeted restrictions. But ultimately, we’ve got to learn to live alongside this virus, and vaccination has been the key to doing it.’
Mr Perrottet said Sydney’s lockdown will end as planned on Monday. Pictured: A Sydney cafe owner
He later told Sky News Australia: ‘We’ve got to learn to live with the virus it’s not going away.
‘I want to be premier of a state that is open and free. It’s not for the government to provide those freedoms. It’s in our innate nature.’
Mr Perrottet said Covid cases will go up when lockdown is lifted but said ‘low cases are not the only point of success’.
He warned there are other factors to consider including mental health and children’s education.
Mr Perrottet has previously argued for unvaccinated residents to be granted equal freedoms once everyone has been offered a jab.
‘Once every single person in this state has had the opportunity to be vaccinated with two doses then we should open up for everyone,’ he told 2GB last month.
‘I want to see more unity and not have a two-tiered society here.’
According to the Berejiklian roadmap, unvaccinated people must wait until December 1 to have the same freedoms the vaccinated enjoy from next week.
Mr Perrotet’s previous pronouncements indicate that could be brought forward.
Mr Perrottet said he has not yet considered whether to move the re-opening of schools forward from October 18.
‘I have just been appointed and I have not even been sworn in yet – in terms of making policy decisions in relation to that,’ he said.
Mr Perrottet said he has not yet considered whether to move the re-opening of schools forward from October 18. Pictured: Georgina Coase home schools her daughter Emily, seven, and son Samuel, nine, in Stanwell Park, Wollongong
‘We have had significant debates. I, like every parent across the state, want the kids back in school as quickly as possible, so I can tell the people of New South Wales today I am committed to doing that.
‘We have a roadmap. At this stage, that roadmap is in place and I will work through those details.’
Mr Perrottet also wants to restart international travel, with tourists to enter Australia next year.
‘We’re talking about returning international students, we’re talking about returning Australians. We’re opening up businesses and the next step is opening up borders,’ he told Daily Mail Australia last month.
Mr Perrottet also wants to restart international travel, with tourists expected to enter Australia next year. Pictured: Sydney Airport last year
‘If we can lead the way on international travel that’s going to be a great thing for the state.
‘And hopefully that will then lead to other states following us. It might be ironic that you can get to Bali before you can get to Broome but that’s where we’re heading.’
Mr Perrottet said other states who are nervous about opening up state borders will be eventually pushed into action by their voters who will want to travel once more.
As a father of six and with 11 siblings, Mr Perrottet said he would be a ‘family premier’ who wants to ‘make life better for working families.’
‘Up until now, all of our Liberal premiers have been infrastructure premiers, building roads, rail, schools and hospitals for communities right across our state, and that will not change with me,’ he said.
‘But I will also be a family Premier, focusing on how we can make life better for working families, living the Liberal values of opportunity, aspiration and hard work.’
Mr Perrottet said he would be a ‘family premier’ who wants to ‘make life better for working families.’ He is picture with his children and wife Helen
‘The true strength of New South Wales is its people, our tradies, our working mums and dads, business owners, frontline workers, teachers, workers, doctors, paramedics, firefighters, police. Our state is a rich history with a rich tapestry.’
He later said having a family ‘enriches you’ and ‘gives you different perspective.’ Former Premier Ms Berejiklian does not have children.
With Sydney house prices up 29 per cent in the past year to an unaffordable $1.3million, Mr Perrottet is worried that too many young people won’t be able to buy a home.
Mr Perrottet has advocated scrapping stamp duty – a tax paid when a property is sold – in favour of an annual land tax, effectively transferring the tax impost from new buyers to longstanding home owners.
‘We are facing a challenge when it comes to generational equity where many young people today cannot get the keys to their very first home, and we have a duty to ensure that generations that come after us have greater opportunity and prosperity than we have, and, in order to do that, reform is key,’ he said on Tuesday.
With Sydney house prices up 20 per cent in the past year, Mr Perrottet is worried that too many young people won’t be able to buy a home. Pictured: An auction in Sydney in May
‘Reform is crucial. It is tough, and it is very rarely achieved in a bipartisan way because the political advantage is too tough, but I am here to do what is right, to serve our people.
‘Ultimately, you only reform and take on those challenges in circumstances where you are improving the lives of people across our state and that is the end goal,’ he said.
Mr Perrottet is a devout Catholic who voted against the decriminalisation of abortion in 2019 and will argue against euthanasia in an expected vote later this month.
He has been described as NSW’s most conservative premier since WWII but said his religious beliefs do not make him less qualified for the job.
‘My religious views and my Christian faith is something I am incredibly proud of, as many people across our state are.
‘That is something that is personal to me and personal too many people, and I think that is incredibly important,’ he said.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet walks through Parliament on Tuesday before securing the votes to become NSW Premier
Mr Perrottet defended his decision to vote against allowing abortion, saying: ‘There are always different views, and some decisions are sensitive and difficult.
‘The position I took on that was similar to the position that many people in the parliament took and that many people across our state hold. They’re difficult decisions. They’re not easy. But public life is not easy.
‘As I’ve always said on issues of that nature that come up from time to time – they’re rare, but when they come up from time to time – our party will always have a conscience vote.’
Asked if LGBTI communities have any reason to be concerned by his leadership, Mr Perrottet said: ‘No, not at. A fundamental premise of my values is respect and dignity for everyone.
‘That has been the way that I’ve conducted myself in public life. I love diversity. That’s what makes our state great.
‘I have the deep honour and privilege to be here today and to serve the people of our state, I will serve every single one of you.’