We hear that a recent federal director of
the Liberal Party is telling people about leadership movement – and it seems
that The Australian‘s Dennis Shanahan is hearing what we’re hearing,
“Decisions. Decisions,” he writes today.
“John Howard has a lot on his mind. And not just the issue of whether he will
contest the next election either.” He continues:
In an unsettled atmosphere among his
cabinet colleagues and increasingly strident calls for Howard to “stay
on”, the Prime Minister has to make a strategic decision on a ministerial
reshuffle. Howard’s cabinet colleagues, ministers, parliamentary secretaries
and backbenchers are expecting ministerial changes before Christmas. The
expectation has arisen in the Coalition where there is a growing sense of
malaise and disaffection, a feeling of tension and tiredness only a year into
the fourth term.
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There are clearly some ministers whose
performance is lacklustre; others who have been too long in their jobs; and
some who have lost touch or credibility in their portfolio. The Nationals, now
most famously symbolised by maverick Senator Barnaby Joyce, are
over-represented in the ministry and under-represented on talent.
Which makes new Wild Rumour Number II very
interesting – that Peter McGauran is getting the numbers to challenge the lame
duck Nationals’ leader Mark Vaile if Cossie moves. Back when John Anderson
walked in June, of course, McGauran tied with Warren Truss for the deputy’s position,
but let the Queenslander take the job.
Sources down on the farm now say that
they’re hoping Truss won’t cause any trouble and let McGauran leapfrog onto to
the top job.
And there might even be a plus for
parliamentary standards out of all of this. If Peter McGauran became Deputy PM,
he might be able to ship his brother, Julian, the village idiot of East
Gippsland, off to become administrator of Norfolk Island – preventing any more
inappropriate Senate scenes.