17 March 2006

Does not work and play well with others

Nick Minchin fancies himself as a hard man of the Liberal rightwing. This persona implies that any kind of balls-up wouldn't happen if he was on the job, no sir, because balls-ups [sic] only happen because super-competent and tough guys like Minchin aren't on the job. This gives Minchin a reputation for competence he does not deserve.

He only held one job of substance before going into the Senate, and that wasas SA State Director of the Liberal Party. His performance in that post was unexemplary in terms of actually winning seats for the Liberal Party, but exemplary in terms of helping keep the Bannon Labor government in office while playing factional silly-buggers.

True, Kevin Andrews is doing an appalling job at selling the Federal Government's workplace relations changes. This is because they are needlessly provocative, no incentive either to being "relaxed and comfortable" nor to being more productive, and vulnerable to the slightest puff of legal challenge; a rush job despite being planned decades in advance. If the coal industry can have a hand in regulating greenhouse emissions, why didn't the H R Nicholls crowd have a go at knocking up WR legislation? It could scarcely be worse than the current shower, it would be honest about its intentions and might even povoke a coherent policy response from the ALP. They need a win, and old Nick is used to sitting by dithering while Labor pulls in public support.

But cheer up, it could be worse: if Minchin was Workplace Relations Minister there'd be open revolt from all quarters, not least from those who support the thrust of this legislation. Minchin has no ability to empathise with other people, nor even the ability (essential for a politician, you'd think) to pretend that he empathises. He'd be crap at selling the WR changes, he'd suck in Health or Education or Family Services or any area without the bottom-line bricks-and-mortar clarity that comes from impersonal matters. Howard has been smart to not let the man who could well be Australia's first autistic politician anywhere near any policy areas where votes could be lost in spades because, as stated earlier, this senior politician has no idea about winning votes. Why Howard has him along for the ride at all is unclear: surely he's not that hard up for support in Cabinet? Minchin should recognise his own limitations and shut up about people doing a difficult job under difficult circumstances, particularly when those people are his colleagues, voters and others responsible for maintaining the fiction that he is a tough, smart, effective politician.

He'll balls up again because what you've seen here is a glimpse of the real Minchin, not some inadvertent error which can be quickly and permanently reversed. He'll do it at an less convenient time and be gone within three years.