Finally, an issue that stirred up the juices again. Something that I felt I could write about for you here.
Now, recently I have speculated, as have others in the media and blog diaspora, upon the fact of whether it would be a good time for a Spring Clean of the Ministry by the Prime Minister, especially in light of the appearance that a few of her Ministers aren't performing up to scratch. Nasking had a go at suggesting a few changes, and so I thought, well, why don't I give it a go as well and open it up for debate here? So what follows is my humble opinion. Feel free to weigh in.
Well, obviously, Stephen Smith is doing a good job in Defence, and, as one of the government's Senior Ministers he can virtually pick any job he likes to do. However, it is my belief that now he has got his teeth stuck into Defence's derriere, he won't let go until he sees the changes he has made through to their conclusion.
Now, Jason Clare, Minister for Defence Materiel, although he is proving to be capable should obviously step aside for Dr Mike Kelly. Also, as Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney is having trouble finding a winnable spot on the ALP Senate ticket in Victoria, Mike could take that on as well. Mike Kelly in Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry is the wrong place for his talents. Which leaves his portfolio for Jason Clare maybe and especially with the Coalition State governments amping up their efforts to wind back environmental protection via introducing Commercial Fishing to what were once Marine Parks, Agriculture and Forestry is set to play an important role in the implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme, it may well be a good place for a telegenic up and comer to expand on his Ministerial CV.
OK, here's a controversial one. How about swapping out Wayne Swan and Bill Shorten? It's still within the PM's gift to tell MPs who's going to get what, and I think it's about time Bill Shorten was allowed to 'Put up, or Shut up'. Wayne Swan, whilst he has been a more than capable Treasurer, is no star performer in the job, in the mould of a Keating or a Costello, seeking to take the batting on at the other end to the PM.
Kevin Rudd, Craig Emerson, Simon Crean, Peter Garrett, and Jenny Macklin, I'd leave where they are. Although I have my doubts about Jenny Macklin, she appears to be wading through Indigenous and Family Affairs capably in what is a tough gig.
If the rumours about the Attorney General's office that we heard on Insiders
are true, that is, a Minister poorly-served by his department, I'd have to say that the buck stops with the Minister on that one and he should have to pay with his job for the poor advice that came to the government over the Malaysian policy regarding Asylum Seekers. Which allows the PM to move Mark Dreyfus, a far better lawyer by far than Rob McLelland, into that job.
The best friend the Miners have got in the government, Martin Ferguson, should stay in Resources in order to put out any brushfires after the MRRT gets out into the world.
Nick Sherry seems to be doing OK in Small Business, as in I haven't heard Small Business complain much except for the obvious call for the power to hire and fire at will again and pay their staff peanuts for working at any time of the day or night. Plus ca change there I suppose.
Penny Wong appears happy and is doing a good job in Finance and I wouldn't want to upset a Mum-to-be.
I'd split Tourism away from Martin Ferguson, though, and bring in a talented backbencher like Melissa Parke. I think that, like Manufacturing, with the Resources Boom we need someone who can devote all their energy and talent to finding a way through the Tourism morass as it stands.
Tanya Plibersek in Human Services, I'm not sure about. She is a spirited advocate for the government but I'm not sure how good a job she is doing in her portfolio with Social Housing. I just saw a story on 7.30 NSW about some Women’s Crisis Accommodation, which has gone nowhere over the last year. However, that may be just a combination of old NSW State ALP government, and new Coalition government both stuffing things up. Still, if I were federal Minister overseeing a shemozzle I'd be putting a rocket up them regularly to get the job done ASAP.
Greg Combet has to stick around and bed down the ETS for the moment. However, next term I'd make sure he got a Senior Economic portfolio like Trade.
Actually, as Joe Ludwig is Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, now that I think about it, and Mike Kelly only Parliamentary Secretary Assisting, he should go after the Live Cattle imbroglio and be given Justice. He could still keep the Queensland Flood Recovery gig.
Mark Arbib just simply needs to be disendorsed for the Senate at the next election. He may have a Masters in Political Science, and is a master of political intrigues, but he's proven to be a hopeless Minister in any portfolio he has been given. I mean the Minister for Sport in a Labor government giving a photo opportunity free kick to Tony Abbott to reprise his goofy-footed Tennis schtick from the last election for the cameras? He totally blotted out Mark Arbib, and it sums up his realpolitik
skills in one for mine.
As far as a new Minister for Sport goes, I'd draught Andrew Demetriou. Everyone knows he wants to get into politics for the ALP, so I'd put the weights on him to make up his mind and dangle the Ministry of Sport job in front of him like a carrot to get him over the line. Mark Arbib could go back to doing what he does best, being a faceless man.
Kim Carr is holding the line against the new Protectionist forces well in Science, Industry, Innovation and Research. So I'd leave him alone to keep fighting the good fight.
Brendan O'Connor is in Home Affairs and Justice. Well, as I said, I'd take Justice out and make it a separate portfolio. He comes across as capable in Home Affairs, and, if we revert back to needing to keep Australia strong from within its borders, instead of using the Howard Government 'Fortress Australia' model which incorporates the strong border protection model that sees Asylum Seeker boats towed out to sea and the SAS and Navy used to antagonistically threaten the people on the boats and fire shots across their bows and associated hairy-chested palaver, then Brendan might be the man for that job.
Which brings me to Immigration. Chris Bowen appears to have taken the bit between his teeth again after the Malaysian operation fell over. As he said on Insiders
, the concept of a Regional Hub and spoke approach via the Bali Process was essentially a good one when it came to putting some sort of order and process into Irregular Migration into our region. So I wouldn't give the Opposition the body they and the media are baying for, I'd leave him there to get on with the job of crafting a new deal for Asylum Seekers who arrive by boat. I would hope he'd call a spade a shovel on the BS that the Opposition come out with, using their diarrhoea-esque imagery when they bleat about continuously: "The country has lost control of its borders", instead seeking to continue to find a way to elbow the People Movers out of the equation. There is a solution there to be found and I hope he finds it.
Also I'd put Chris Evans, Minister for Industrial Relations, Skills and Tertiary Education out to pasture. He doesn't have cut-through, and if IR is again to become a battleground for the next election I think you need someone with useful and youthful enthusiasm to take that fight up to Tony Abbott and the Coalition. I'd swap out Chris Evans for Mark Butler. Mark Butler has done an amazing job in Mental Health but the time has come for him to move on up to bigger and better things. Maybe Chris Evans could oversee the implementation of the Mental Health policy.
The Minister for the NBN, Stephen Conroy, of course has to stay put. He knows the portfolio like the back of his hand and everyone in the industry on a first name basis, and he is doing a good job to boot.
Gary Gray has always had my appreciation as someone who has cut-through in the media whenever he is heard and is more than capable of doing a good job in his portfolio of Special Minister of State, Public Service and Integrity (though I do wish he'd closely scrutinize Tony Abbott's Travel Allowance spending for his book tour to promote 'Battlelines'). I would also add another feather to his cap, therefore, and give him 'Freedom of Information and Privacy'. I think there is a battle going on there with regard to the media, who are using FOI as a Fishing ground for anti-government sensationalism, and whilst I believe in open and transparent government, I think the concept is being abused to no small extent by the media, and some tweaks along the lines that John Faulkner was considering, need to be revisited by the government, and Gary Gray is the man for that job. Not Brendan O'Connor.
Anthony Albanese must stay in Infrastructure. It is a very important part of the government's story that they must tell at the next election about how they are so different from the Coalition.
Finally, Kate Ellis in Child Care is a no-brainer, really.
Well, that's about it.
Here's the full Ministerial List
so you can mull over it yourselves.
What do you think?