As the dust slowly settles on the federal election outcome, which on Tuesday saw the final unveiling of what may well go down as the longest political striptease in Australian political history, the two major parties must now confront the task of rejigging their front benches and realigning their teams for the future.
Now that attention has been diverted away from the three amigo independents, whose protracted rendition of My Little Buttercup awarded Labor “the sweetest smile,” the press pack are busy speculating about the inevitable round of MP musical chairs.
Certain questions are now being retrieved from, as Rowan Callick in The Oz dubs it, the “too-hard basket”, including whether Tony Windsor or Rob Oakeshott should be offered cabinet positions, whether Labor needs a new face for its climate change portfolio, which Coalition member is best placed to overhaul their communications portfolio (given the importance broadband played in the election) and then of course there’s that tricky issue of what to do with past (read: knifed) leaders.
Should Kevin Rudd return to the Labor ministry, perhaps as foreign minister? And what should the Libs do with Malcolm Turnbull?
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The commentariat is abuzz with speculation. Here’s what they’re saying:
Patricia Karvelas: Gillard asks MPs to name wish list ahead of Labor reshuffle
Speculation ran hot yesterday that Foreign Minister Stephen Smith would take the job of defence minister, vacated by the resignation of ALP elder John Faulkner. Other Labor sources yesterday said Greg Combet was unlikely to be given the defence role, and was instead likely to take the climate change portfolio, replacing South Australian Senator Penny Wong, who will move on to another senior portfolio.
Rowan Callick: Julia’s dilemma: what to do about Kevin Rudd
If she appoints Kevin Rudd as foreign minister, she will upset key countries in the region with which relations worsened during Mr Rudd’s prime ministership. She would also anger the battered Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade where Mr Rudd once worked.
Patricia Karvelas and Dennis Shanahan: Coalition minimises portfolio changes
Tony Abbott will not make dramatic changes to his front bench despite pressure to promote new faces. Younger turks in Liberal ranks are pushing for some of the former Howard government ministers to be shunted aside and for fresh faces to revitalise the front bench.
Imre Salusinszky: Neutral? Rob Oakeshott ‘asked Labor for state cabinet seat’
Rob Oakeshott has previously sought positions in Labor cabinets, casting doubt on whether the independent MP was fully impartial as he considered the claims of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to form minority government.
Michelle Grattan and Katharine Murphy: PM eyes Combet for climate
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected to bring high-flyer Greg Combet into cabinet to be climate minister, as Labor tries to rebuild credibility on an issue that helped sow the seeds of its poor performance at the federal election last month.
The Daily Telegraph
Simon Benson: Queue of ministers at Julia Gillard’s door
Ministers queued outside the PM’s door yesterday in what some described as an “unprecedented but refreshing” shift away from factional patronage. Ms Gillard is also “interviewing” junior ministers, parliamentary secretaries and backbenchers seeking promotion.
The Herald Sun
Labor MPs have been making their cases for portfolio shifts and promotion, with Ms Gillard reserving the ultimate right to determine who would form her new team. It is understood Ms Gillard is consulting more than Mr Rudd on her ministerial line-up, but key factional powerbrokers are still involved in putting names forward for promotion.