As the dust settles, however temporarily, in the Liberal Party, Scott Morrison’s new ministry will be sworn in and get down to work. And while there are new faces as well as old hands in the same roles — continuity with change! — it’s clear that some powerful figures have suffered a blow.
Peter Dutton: From would-be rooster to potential feather duster in one vote, Dutton’s inept challenge last week belonged in a Keystone (Queensland) Cops two-reeler. And while he’s been restored to Home Affairs, David Coleman has been elevated to Immigration Minister under him. Dutton is now damaged goods.
Julie Bishop: Bishop got just 11 votes in last Friday’s ballot and none at all from her WA colleagues. Leaked WhatApp messages since suggest she was the target of strategic voting and what she called “dirty tricks”. But a would-be PM should be orchestrating that kind of thing, not falling victim to it — it’s basic political survival.
Bishop will likely leave politics, and do so bizarrely well-regarded, but her bungled push for the leadership is an apt symbol of a career marked by errors, colossal misjudgments and inadequacy for the job.
Mathias Cormann: Dutton’s fellow member of the conservative guard around Turnbull has been badly tarnished by the events of last week. Hitherto known for integrity and loyalty, Cormann backed Turnbull unequivocally on Wednesday but a few hours later was telling him he’d lost the partyroom. Friday’s ballot numbers would show that if he, Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash had stuck with Turnbull, the latter would still be PM.
There’s a silver lining though — Cormann has once again had the burden of Special Minister of State taken back off him (Alex Hawke gets that), leaving him to do his day job of Finance Minister.
Greg Hunt: Hunt is fortunate to retain his health portfolio. He’s a loser on another front — he’s now seen as a disloyal, hollow man who seems to be good at swearing at and trying to bully older women but rotten at backing his leader or doing the numbers for himself.
Michael Sukkar: Dutton’s numbers man has paid the price for a failed coup and been sent to the backbench. But he is young enough and good enough to come back.
Mitch Fifield: Keeps communications but loses Deputy Senate leader to Simon Birmingham, who personned up on Thursday and filled in for Cormann as Senate leader and didn’t too a bad job. The new Cormann-Birmingham leadership team in the Senate is the kind of conservative/moderate, Duttonite/loyalist balance that is the best part of Morrison’s reshuffle.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Michaelia Cash: Chuckles was Fifield’s colleague in hiding behind Cormann when they abandoned Turnbull, and got dumped to Small Business — but more because she’s a grave liability than as punishment. Meantime, we’re waiting to hear when the DPP will do her job and charge someone from Cash’s office for breaking the law.
Marise Payne: No more being leaked against by certain ministers coveting her portfolio. She loses the career graveyard of defence and gets foreign affairs. She already knows the US defence establishment, so she’ll start off well-positioned in Washington.
Christopher Pyne: Stuck by Turnbull, and finally gets defence. The always cheerful Pyne will have an extra spring, or perhaps a martial rhythm, in his step.
Sussan Ley: Back into the outer ministry, leaving the way clear for an eventual return to cabinet if the government lasts and she wants to go round in Farrer again. The best health minister of recent years is badly needed in a government signally short of talented women. Or any women, really.
Stuart Robert: The China Syndrome is back. As numbers man for Morrison, Robert expected a reward, but the assistant treasurership places a man who failed to trouble the scorers on ministerial achievement during his last stint dangerously close to actual responsibility in an important portfolio. It’s not even clear at the moment how financial services will be handled within the government.
Will be missed
Craig Laundy: The excellent Western Sydney minister and Turnbull stalwart — it was Laundy who flanked Turnbull with Arthur Sinodinos as he entered the partyroom on Friday — has knocked back a portfolio and might bail out of politics altogether. It would be a pity. Laundy is a genuine liberal in a party increasingly devoid of them, competent, loyal and hard-working; his type is needed more than ever now in politics.
After last week, though, it wouldn’t surprise if he’d had a gutful of the lot of them.
What do you think of the cabinet reshuffle? Send your responses to [email protected].