WORDS BY HEIDI HELBIG
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAM KROEPSCH
If the game of politics is ruthless and unforgiving, someone forgot to tell Courtney Nourse.
The 26-year-old from Nuriootpa is Ministerial Advisor to one of the State’s most influential powerbrokers, Stephan Knoll, and she’s loving every minute of it.
Courtney has remained staunchly by his side during his epic rise from Opposition backbencher to senior Cabinet Minister overseeing four of the State’s most demanding portfolios.
Admittedly their workplace isn’t the most conventional but Courtney counts herself lucky to work for both a principled leader and a trusted friend.
“Politics is very different to other boss-employee relationships due to the nature of the job,” Courtney says.
“It’s demanding but the Minister is so good at what he does, incredibly knowledgeable and across his information – he really breaks the mould and I’m proud to work for someone like him.”
Courtney herself has been on a steep learning curve since her party broke a 16-year drought in Opposition in March this year. Walking the hallowed corridors of Parliament House is a far cry from the Schubert electorate office in Tanunda.
“It’s normal now – I think I’m used to it – but the first time you do it, you definitely have to pinch yourself,” says Courtney.
Working alongside a small team of advisors and a chief of staff, Courtney’s day-to-day role is as broad as her job description. With portfolio responsibilities spanning Renewal SA and Local Government, she also acts as the liaison between MPs and the department, researches policy and travels regional South Australia with the Minister.
“It’s not like any other job – no-one really tells you how to be in this position, it’s really up to you and your minister how you make it.” – Courtney Nourse
“It’s not like any other job – no-one really tells you how to be in this position,” Courtney says.
“It’s really up to you and your minister how you make it.”
When Parliament is sitting, the days can stretch into nights, as Courtney prepares for Opposition curveballs that are characteristic of Question Time.
“You have deadlines where you need to put information together for a ministerial statement. It’s the adrenaline, getting those answers really quickly and getting them to the Minister, quite often as he is just getting into Question Time,” Courtney says.
“There’s no such thing as an average day – every day is incredibly different.”
It’s a job Courtney has literally been preparing for her whole life. Her upbringing in the country in a socially-active family – her father is the President of the Saddleworth peak body committee – shaped her course.
“A broad mind – I think that’s what happens when you grow up in a regional area,” says Courtney.
“You see the community involvement and it instils those values in you – you feel like you want to make an impact.
“I was 18 when I joined the Party – when I looked at their beliefs and what they stand for, I realised that’s what I stood for too.”
Going on to study a Bachelor of Government and Public Management, Courtney was determined not only to take every opportunity but to create her own. She volunteered at Liberal Party headquarters, hit the hustings in State and Federal elections and washed her fair share of dishes on the way to paid employment, learning life lessons along the way.
“You have to work hard to get to where you want to be in life,” she says.
“If I was to give advice to young people, you have to expose yourself to opportunities, volunteer and put in effort, especially when you’re young and needing experience.”
While she has no aspirations of a life in public office herself, Courtney is excited about the generational change taking place in the Party and across politics more broadly.
“This time around we had 11 new Liberal Members of Parliament,” she says.
“As someone who is a younger person, to see young people involved, family people involved, is really encouraging.”
She also takes an unambiguous stance on the gender imbalance in politics.
“I always want to see more women in Parliament but they have to get there on merit,” she says.
Acknowledging many people have lost faith in political process, Courtney says to be a politician
is to be human.
“People only see the theatre,” she says. “Members of Parliament work very hard and face a lot of demand; federal parliamentarians are literally away from their families for at least half a year.
“They have families, they have feelings, they are just like you and I. That’s what people don’t often see.”
And while North Terrace has become her home away from home these past eight months, Courtney’s heart remains in the Barossa, where she still manages time for CrossFit, Nuriootpa Hockey Club and a hit at the local courts.
“We live in such a beautiful region,” says Courtney, a former Barossa Vintage Festival Young Ambassador. “I already loved the Barossa as it was, but to see how much it has grown in the past
four and a half years with new cafes, cellar doors, gin bars and new shops – let’s say I’m not moving any time soon!”