While today’s papers have
been full of reshuffle speculation, one thing missing from the feverish
reportage is the old notion of timing. We hear timing is near the top of
the PM’s priorities, because he’s toying with not one reshuffle – but two.

The first quite sizeable change will happen
very soon, and that’s when some of the deadwood will be cleared and an infusion
of new blood injected into the ministry – and Cabinet. And while his new team settles into
gear, Howard will be watching closely, and planning his next move. This is
likely to centre on Arts and Sports Minister, Rod Kemp.

Why? Because Kemp is a Victorian, and wants to be
seen out and about at his hometown Commonwealth Games in March. And Howard
doesn’t want to ditch a well-regarded loyalist before his “farewell

So expect a Kemp-based mini-shuffle after the
Games. It’s shaping up to be a tinkering around the edges, but also an opportunity for
Howard to fine-tune his ministry – especially if the first reshuffle
doesn’t settle the simmering stew of ambition heating up internal Coalition

Which is why those who miss out on the first reshuffle –
increasingly likely to include Malcolm Turnbull because of the rank jealousy of less talented members of the backbench herd –
should not feel too depressed, too soon.