A couple of weeks ago, Mr Abbott suggested that some of his colleagues had a problem with Peta Credlin because of her gender, and that they had trouble relating to a women who was so powerful. He made it clear that her sex was irrelevant to him and that he’d have the same relationship with her whatever sex she was. Some people, however, argued charges of sexism were pretty hypocritical coming from a man who’d only appointed one woman to Cabinet.
In a very exciting development, Abbott has doubled the number of women in Cabinet. One senior Liberal source said this was a welcome development as there’d now be someone else to clear the cups when Julie Bishop is overseas, before hastily adding that this was a joke and that they actually had tea-ladies to do that sort of thing.
Still this Ministerial reshuffle achieves most of Mr Abbott’s aims.
The promotion of a woman to the Health Portfolio – albeit one who doesn’t know how to spell “Susan” properly – should stop those screeching feminist harpies who are complaining that the Minister for Women has only announced initiatives for women with children, while the promotion of Josh Frydenberg rewards young talent.
But the moving of Scott Morrison to Social Services has a twofold effect. If he’s effective, it should enable the government to slash spending in this area, while also reducing Morrison’s popularity and thereby putting a dent in any leadership aspirations he may have. It’s one thing to be popular while holding foreign children offshore, but it’ll be a different matter when it’s Australian children ringing Senator Muir to ask him to please support government legislation so that they can be returned to their parents!
In a move that surprised most keen observers, David Johnston has lost the Defence portfolio. Johnston’s lacklustre performance and canoe comments meant that most thought he was absolutely secure, because once Mr Abbott starts demoting underperforming Ministers, a dangerous precendent may have been set. If Johnston wasn’t safe, then one must also consider that Hockey, Pyne, and Joyce can’t simply presume that hiding in one’s office for three months after saying something foolish is enough to keep one in the Ministry.
Peter Dutton, the mostly invisible Minister for Health moves to Immigration, where he can merely cite “operational matters” as a reason for having nothing to say.
Kevin Andrews – a keen Euthanasia opponent – has been given a portfolio consistent with his views on the sanctity of human life: Defence.
All in all, this looks like a very successful reshuffle and all those screaming about icebergs should just sit back in their deckchairs, order another cocktail and enjoy the ride.