How will the new Labor ensemble play – and who are they playing to?

New industrial relations shadow Julia Gillard will now have plenty of time to work the union numbers. That might help with her leadership aspirations. It mightn’t do much for blue collar voters.

IR is crucial to the survival of manufacturing. An ACTU-dictated IR policy will not do anything to help this. Indeed, it could spell the industry’s demise.

Rudd has signalled that industry is a priority. He’s got an odd way of showing it, making Kim Carr shadow. He’s a faction, not a policy heavy. But no doubt he’ll enjoy the fact finding trip to North Korea. Ditto new trade shadow Simon Crean, although he’ll be off to China.

Craig Emerson has an interesting sounding portfolio – that “service economy” part of the title is a new angle. And independent contractors will be a challenge, as so many of these are former Labor types turned Howard true believers.

Martin Ferguson has been Labor’s biggest uranium advocate. Somehow that doesn’t fit with his new transport, roads and tourism portfolio.

Bob McMullan is a wily old bird. Kevin Rudd has already signalled that he will work with the Labor state and territory governments to make life hard for John Howard. Keep an eye on McMullan’s activities as federal/state relations spokesman.

Why anyone would make Nicola Roxon health spokesperson – let alone put her up against Tony Abbott – is inexplicable. She’s scarcely made any impact as shadow Attorney-General.

One Labor woman who seems set to make a bigger impact, however, is the new public administration and accountability and corporate governance and responsibility shadow, Penny Wong. A big portfolio for a Senator with a big future.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey