Pre-reshuffle jockeying, game-playing and backstabbing reached a height at Jim Killen’s state funeral in Brisbane on Friday. Speculation is everywhere. Yet we really only know two facts.

The first is that there will be a reshuffle before Parliament resumes next month because of the second – that the Prime Minister needs to be able to present a competitive lineup as the Government enters its 11th year in power.

Age poses a whole range of problems for Governments. Complacency is one of them. And complacency manifests itself in many curious ways.

Yesterday, a number of News Limited papers carried a report on Gold Coast MP Steven Ciobo:

A Queensland federal MP has taken an estimated $10,000 taxpayer-funded study tour to Britain and the US after snubbing the offer of a briefing in Canberra.

Gold Coast-based Steve Ciobo could have taken a $225 flight to Canberra for a briefing on the Federal Government’s Access Card from Human Services Minister Joe Hockey, but chose a two-week overseas trip to do his research.

The Government MP for Moncrieff has been part of a backbench revolt against the proposal, which will replace 17 existing Federal Government cards, including Medicare.

He is worried it could become a “Trojan horse” for a national ID card and travelled to Britain to examine the roll-out of a controversial identity card scheme…

The lad copped a serve on the leader page of his hometown rag, the Brisbane Sunday Mail:

Some people go far afield to search for truths that are right under their noses. One is Member for Moncrieff Steve Ciobo, who is using a $10,000 taxpayer-funded trip to London and Washington to investigate government identification cards.

What a pity he didn’t satisfy his curiosity by spending a modest $225 to attend a briefing in Canberra.

But in his quest for wisdom he has made one discovery: In politics you never know who your enemies are.

Mr Ciobo blamed political rivals for his troubles, but actually it was Human Services Minister Joe Hockey who blew the whistle…

Only the day before Ciobo was being tipped for promotion to a parliamentary secretary’s position. It’s an extraordinary story, no matter how you look at it.

Before the weekend there was speculation that Ciobo would get a promotion – partially based on the old “better on the inside p-ssing out” maxim. Now, his criticisms of the Access Card and yesterday’s story have led to speculation over the future of Joe Hockey.

The story of Ciobo’s briefing is extraordinary – and so is the claim in the Sunday Mail’s editorial that Hockey exposed his trip.

Both point to a worrying degree of complacency in the Government – complacency that saps unity and purpose and damages the Government’s standing. Exactly the sort of complacency that the PM must tackle in his reshuffle.

Peter Fray

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