Nick Sherry is apparently out; Phillip Coorey says he’s “undergoing a tough time personally and might need a break” in journalistic double-speak. Speculation goes that Robert McClelland will also step down (replaced by Penny Wong, Laura Tingle suggests), though Coorey reports his office denies retirement talk. Tingle hears “persistent rumours” that Chris Evans is out, too. Bill Shorten — sorry, “the ambitious” Bill Shorten, that is — is likely to win promotion, it’s agreed. And Tony Abbott, for what it’s worth, reckons Kevin Rudd should be the first to get the chop.

It’s all pretty silly, talk of Julia Gillard playing cabinet musical chairs, in this silliest of seasons. And all entirely predictable.

Ministers leave when they’re old or sick or (publicly shamed for being) incompetent or find a high-paying corporate gig, but everything else is just smoke and mirrors. Political distraction. And in the case of this government, the “shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic” imagery has never been more apt.

The public doesn’t care who the small business minister is. And the development of small business policy will be unaffected. Labor’s problems run much, much deeper.


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Peter Fray

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