The Opposition frontbench has something for everyone, so long as you ignore what should be its most important goal: to get the Coalition back into government. It probably shores up Brendan Nelson's position while leaving those left out feeling as though they're still in with a chance.
- Julie Bishop: employment, business and workplace relations. Good choice, should put Gillard's feet to the fire. I suspect Bishop will be better in opposition than in government.
- Malcolm Turnbull: shadow treasurer. Who else? Should reinforce Sydney as the nation's business capital. Weak on organising personal office and in empathising for non-business people.
- Andrew Robb: foreign affairs. No! This is a party-room fixer who should be in a role like infrastructure, shoring up funding and support and staring down Labor and the Nats.
- Nick Minchin: defence. Will nitpick Fitzgibbon and let him get away with murder on wider strategy, where both are as stunningly ignorant as one another. The fact that he can't put Fitzgibbon away should end forever the delusion that he's a heavy-hitter. Best not to expose him to voters.
- Tony Smith: education, apprenticeships and training. Needs purpose in life now that Costello is gone, hopefully the good reports of him will be borne out.
- Tony Abbott: Indigenous affairs, families, community services and volunteer sector. This has to be a pisstake. Mr People Skills telling Aborigines to suck it up, or pedophile victims to go see a priest, or headbutting Jenny Macklin. He'll go to Turnbull's camp out of sheer boredom after a few weeks of this.
- Ian Macfarlane: trade. Excellent, provided he can lose the agriculture-centric perspective, and is prepared to stick around.
- Joe Hockey: leader of opposition business; health and ageing. Potentially very good, if he can master the brief he should be able to more than checkmate Roxon.
- Greg Hunt: climate change, environment and urban water. Deserves benefit of doubt.
- Bruce Billson: broadband, communication and the digital economy. Also deserves benefit of doubt. If he can withstand early blows from Conroy the latter should collapse in the face of steady, consistent pressure, which Billson seems well placed to provide.
- Christopher Pyne: justice, border protection and citizenship. Lotsa press releases.
- Bronwyn Bishop: veterans affairs. Silliest decision yet. The NSW Division needs regeneration and it needs Mackellar. You could almost convince Liberal preselectors there that the old girl has had her go - now she gets a second wind the Liberals will never get rid of her. So much for reform and renewal - thanks, Brendan!
- Stephen Ciobo: small business, the service economy and tourism. Nobody. Craig Emerson will eat him alive.
- Michael Keenan: shadow assistant treasurer. Let's see if he can live up to the rumour that he's barely competent.
- Warren Truss: infrastructure, transport and local government. Fuck the Nationals, give them nothing. Give 'em veterans' affairs and say they're lucky to get that. Warren Truss wouldn't know what day it is. Albanese will eat him alive.
- Nigel Scullion: fisheries, agriculture and forestry. As above, but substitute Tony Burke.
- Helen Coonan: human services. Sure, why not? If only there was a Liberal government somewhere, she could be offered a judiciary.
- Peter Dutton: finance, competition policy and deregulation. Out of his depth. Shoulda had the role given to Pyne, who might have curbed his showpony tendencies in that role.
- Chris Ellison: immigration and citizenship; manager of Opposition business in the Senate. Should've had this role in government about five years ago.
- George Brandis: shadow attorney-general. Interesting to see his stance on issues of substance on civil liberties, federal-state constitutional matters, and the judiciary. He could run rings around McClelland, or he could become such a prancing twit that he blows the Liberals reputation as liberal reformers in the law for another generation. Do your best. Please.
- Michael Ronaldson: special minister of state. Who? What? Unless this becomes a general wastewatch role, he's out of his depth and Faulkner will brush him aside.
- Sharman Stone: environment, heritage, arts and indigenous affairs. Good, shoulda been in Cabinet five years ago.
- Bob Baldwin: defence science, personnel and assisting shadow defence minister. Excellent choice.
- Sussan Ley: housing, status of women. At the very least.
- Pat Farmer: youth and sport. Whatever, dude.
Some good choices, some duds - the very choice of Nelson means the Liberals aren't serious about victory 2010, but this is a team that could more than hold the line until then - provided Nelson doesn't crumple into his own vacuousness.