Well we waited, and waited, and the even after the press conference was called, we waited some more, but Malcolm Turnbull has finally announced his Shadow Ministry, offering a major shake-up that rewards supporters and concentrates expertise on what he believes will be the key issues for the remainder of the Government’s first term. (See the full Turnbull team here and here).
Julie Bishop has won the battle — if it ever was a battle — for the Shadow Treasuryship, and strong Turnbull supporter Chris Pearce– returning to the shadow ministry after rejecting Brendan Nelson’s offer of a Parliamentary Secretaryship last December — will support her on financial services and superannuation, as well as Nelson/Costello supporter Tony Smith, demoted to the outer ministry. Andrew Robb moves from Foreign Affairs to a new, and awkward, portfolio of Infrastructure, COAG and ETS design (try conjuring an acronym out of those). Warren Truss picks up Trade in place of Infrastructure. In perhaps the smartest move, Turnbull has moved Nick Minchin from Defence to replace Bruce Billson, who has struggled to get any coverage, in Communications, with the goal of placing greater pressure on Stephen Conroy over the severely-delayed broadband rollout.
Helen Coonan makes a return to the political frontline, becoming Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate and taking Robb’s place at Foreign Affairs. Her Human Services portfolio moves to Nigel Scullion (now there’s a peculiar choice). Michael Ronaldson remains Special Minister of State but now mimics John Faulkner by becoming Shadow Cabinet Secretary. Greg Hunt — who will be deeply unhappy about losing carriage of the ETS, has been given expanded responsibilities in relation to water and the environment, ending the previous split that had the Nats’ John Cobb saying one thing on water and Liberals saying another.
Neither will Tony Abbott be too happy, having had his publicly-declared wish to move to somewhere more central than Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs ignored. Jenny Macklin will gleefully exploit that for months to come. Joe Hockey – who people may not be aware was Health spokesman rather than just prime grunter in Question Time – moves to Finance, swapping with Peter Dutton. Christopher Pyne returns to shadow Cabinet – reversing Brendan Nelson’s inexplicable rejection of him — in Education, supported by Sophie Mirabella, and Michael Keenan is the big winner, coming into shadow Cabinet to square off against Julia Gillard in Employment and Workplace Relations. At least he won’t come with too much Workchoices baggage.
Bronwyn Bishop missed out altogether, as did Pat Farmer. And rightly so.
The biggest problem with a major reshuffle like this is that everyone now has new jobs to learn. After nine months, Ministers and Shadow Ministers were settling into their portfolios. Now on the Coalition side they have to start all over again.