When the Prime Minister chooses his Ministry, he has many things to consider – reward for support, factions, states, urban/country, diversity, longevity of service.
Merit doesn’t get a look in.
Or perhaps this bunch are the best the Coalition has?
“If you vote Coalition, you get Barnaby Joyce as Deputy Prime Minister” has become a campaign on its own and, for mine, that alone is sufficient reason to change government.
Until recently, we had an Attorney-General who thought it was fine to take anonymous donations to fund a private lawsuit against the national broadcaster.
He has been replaced by a woman who threatened to slut shame parliamentary staff, to “noim noims”, a Minister who refused to co-operate with police regarding the illegal tipping off of the media about an impending raid on union headquarters.
The Minister for Education and Youth has been stood down pending an investigation into allegations of domestic violence by a staffer he admits to having had an affair with.
Not that being stood down means much.
Bridget McKenzie was stood down for using sports rorts to give money to her gun club in 2020. In 2021 she was promoted to Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education plus Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience.
Likewise Sussan Ley, who was forced to quit as Health Minister amid investigations into expense claims which included billing taxpayers to attend two New Year’s Eve events hosted by a prominent Queensland businesswoman and donor and the “impulse purchase” of a luxury Gold Coast apartment while on a taxpayer funded trip. She is now Minister for the Environment.
Her predecessor in the portfolio, Melissa Price, will be remembered for insulting the former President of Kiribati by saying, when introduced to him at dinner by Pat Dodson, “I know why you are here, it’s for the cash. For the Pacific, it’s always about the cash. I have my chequebook here, how much do you want?” After being dubbed the “Invisible Minister” for her obvious disinterest in the environment, Price was “demoted” to Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for Science and Technology. Because that’s what happens when you do a crap job?
Take Linda Reynolds, who had to give Peter Dutton Defence after calling Brittany Higgins a lying cow. She only got the gig to keep her quiet after she made a speech in the Senate about the bullying during the leadership spill which she completely forgot about with her short-lived promotion. She is now Minister for Government Services and Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Which I thought was Stuart Robert’s portfolio but I am so yesterday. Since the 2013 federal election, Robert has been appointed the Assistant Minister for Defence, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Human Services, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Assistant Treasurer, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Minister for Government Services and, most recently, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, with responsibility for whole-of-government technology through the Digital Transformation Agency.
He is most remembered for Robodebt and charging us tens of thousands for his home internet. Oh and being a fellow Pentacostal who, along with Hillsong attendee Alex Hawke, did the numbers for Morrison’s leadership coup.
Hawke, who has only ever worked for the Liberal party (unless you count Woollies in uni holidays), was rewarded with Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs. Alex has the certainty that being a religious conservative Young Liberal bestows, which didn’t go over so well in his previous gig when he tried to convince Pacific leaders that Australia was doing more than enough on climate change.
I mean look who we have taking care of it for us – Angus Taylor who entered politics to protect his family’s view from wind farms and their right to poison whatever damn grass they please. Angus, who writes Facebook messages congratulating himself (whilst forgetting to change his name), will be most remembered for giving a forged document to the Murdoch press, and quoting it in parliament, to try and belittle an opponent’s attempt to reduce emissions. The police couldn’t work out where Angus got the document because they didn’t ask him. Case over.
As Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, we have the archetypal dilettante Tim Wison, well suited for the job after his apprenticeship with the IPA where he penned a glowing review of Ian Plimer’s climate denial book. Tim now wanders around the country having his photo taken with solar panels.
Keith Pitt’s combined water and resources portfolio is presumably to make sure the coal mines, and nuclear power plants if the Minister gets his way, have all the water they need.
We have a health Minister who tells us that Australia has done the bestest in the whole wide world in dealing with the pandemic as our infection rate surges past the US, UK and India, RATs become rarer than numbats, and daily deaths hit new highs.
We have a Treasurer who thinks the most important part of his job is a slide show of cherry-picked graphs and smiling photo ops with the latest brochure.
We have a defence Minister, who talks very loudly and carries a tiny widdle stick, eagerly agreeing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to take obsolete weapons off the hands of the US and UK armaments industries.
The Minister for Aged Care has given up all pretence of knowing or caring what he is doing and gone to the cricket instead.
If, as the old Gillette ad goes, these are “the best a man can get”, a change of government isn’t just desirable, it’s a national imperative.
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