Kevin Rudd is still yet to sack his first public servant but there are plenty of people voluntarily falling on swords and many more looking over their shoulders.
There will be two types of direct sackings – full time public servants such as WorkChoices front woman Barbara Bennett and part timers such as ABC board members Keith Windschuttle, Ron Brunton and Janet Albrechtsen.
Then you have the collateral damage applying to those who have to deal with governments – surely Peter Hendy can’t survive at ACCI and Piers Akerman will be of limited value to News Ltd.
This even extends to the big end of town. Why would Fairfax Media retain former Liberal bagman Ron Walker as chairman? And surely ANZ should shuffle chairman Charles Goode into retirement given his close relationship with John Howard and prominent fundraising role with the party.
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Prime Minister Rudd is not keen to repeat the gulag he established for National Party loyalists in the early days of the Goss government, nor the night of the long knives that John Howard and Jeff Kennett both performed on coming to office.
He’ll need a reason to move on some people and John Howard’s former Cabinet Secretary, Paul McClintock, might have given him a good reason to remove him as chairman of Medibank Private.
The AFR reported on Tuesday that Medibank Private had donated more than $10,000 to Peter Costello’s Higgins campaign fundraising arm in 2005-06.
Costello raised more than $2 million since 2002 and presumably has plenty of cash left over for his successor despite spending up big retaining Higgins on Saturday.
It is completely unacceptable for a 100% owned government business to make donations to individual ministers, let alone the Federal Treasurer who was pushing its privatisation.
Whoever gets ministerial responsibility for Medibank Private should demand to know how this could possibly have happened. Costello should pay the cash back and don’t be surprised if McClintock is asked to show a bit of Westminster accountability and resign – something he didn’t push very hard as the PM’s Cabinet Secretary.
Given that Medibank Private now won’t be sold, its corporate board is presumably less necessary. Besides, McClintock arguably has a conflict of interest given he also chairs Symbion Health – which receives a large chunk of its revenue from, you guessed it, Medibank Private.
Then again, News Ltd’s Terry McCrann is today demanding the entire Symbion board be sacked for its conduct during the Healthscope/Primary Healthcare takeover battle, so McClintock’s Medibank conflict might yet disappear.