22 January 2013

Clearing the dead wood

The Prime Minister's announcement that Nova Peris would contest the Senate seat in the Northern Territory currently held by Trish Crossin has unleashed much outrage from those who never voted for Crossin, or rated her as much of a threat to those they did vote for; you'd think Crossin is the Demosthenes of Darwin, or that Gillard is the first politician to knife those who took up space without performing.

Let's not waste time raking over history and who did what to whom. Let us leave for another time the merits or otherwise of candidates not yet in Parliament, or punditry about who will/won't win.

Instead, let us catalogue the dead wood in the Australian parliament today, people who can and should be removed by those responsible for such matters (including, but not limited to, the voters) in the lead-up to the coming election. Young MPs deserve the benefit of the doubt, up to a point. To nominate those who aren't contesting the next election as 'dead wood' is redundant; I have not included Craig Thomson, who, if vindicated, deserves as much of a political future as anyone in Parliament. Here are the MPs and Senator who should be placed on the front verge for collection by either the great grinding rubbish-trucks of state, or by random opportunists who could make better use of them:


  • Anthony Byrne
  • Jacinta Collins
  • Doug Cameron
  • Yvette D'Ath
  • David Feeney
  • Laurie Ferguson
  • Joel Fitzgibbon
  • Mark Furner
  • Alex Gallacher
  • Chris Hayes
  • Harry Jenkins (retiring)
  • Joe Ludwig
  • Jenny Macklin (oh all right, but straight after NDIS)
  • Gavin Marshall
  • Robert McClelland
  • Claire Moore (see comment below)
  • John Murphy
  • Helen Polley
  • Michelle Rowland
  • Mike Symon
  • Matt Thistlethwaite
  • Lin Thorp
  • Anne Urquhart
  • Maria Vamvakinou


  • Eric Abetz
  • Kevin Andrews
  • Chris Back 
  • Cory Bernardi
  • Julie Bishop
  • Bronwyn Bishop
  • George Brandisandbrettmason (often assumed to be two separate people)
  • David Bushby
  • Michaelia Cash
  • Peter Dutton
  • Sean Edwards
  • Concetta Fierravanti-Wells
  • Mitch Fifield
  • Teresa Gambaro
  • Barry Haase
  • Bill Heffernan
  • Gary Humphries
  • Greg Hunt
  • Dennis Jensen
  • Craig Kelly
  • Helen Kroger
  • Andrew Laming
  • Ian Macdonald
  • Sophie Mirabella
  • Stephen Parry
  • Chris Pyne
  • Don Randall
  • Rowan Ramsey
  • Michael Ronaldson
  • Philip Ruddock
  • Scott Ryan
  • Dean Smith (see comment below)
  • Tony Smith
  • Alex Somlyay
  • Andrew Southcott
  • Ross Vasta


  • Ron Boswell (retiring)
  • George Christensen
  • John Cobb
  • John Forrest
  • Luke Hartsuyker
  • Paul Neville (retiring)
  • Ken O'Dowd
  • Bruce Scott
  • Nigel Scullion
  • Warren Truss
  • John Williams


  • Lee Rhiannon

All of those people have had their go, and more of a go than most get.

It is eminently possible that any of those people could be replaced by someone worse: this is not a reason for retaining them in Parliament. The above includes many who are regarded as rising stars in their respective party (Josh Frydenberg is not on this list, even though he is a waste of skin; the Victorian Liberals need to work him through their system, as they have with Smith, Mirabella and Hunt). The list excludes a number of Last Chance Larrys/Lisas, who may yet distinguish themselves this side of 2016.

The party committed to getting rid of its dead wood can truly demonstrate a commitment to our nation's future.


  1. Danby as well

    1. So he'll never be a minister. Does he have anything valid to say about Israel, or human rights? We'll soon see. Last Chance though.

    2. Exactly Andrew!!

      Its taken this long to be Ministerial material??

      Not very popular with younger jews and banning books by Anthony Lowenstein that have differing views is stupid.

      Nasty tactics towards The Greens last election did not win him many admirers either

      Dead wood and insignificant

  2. I heard Matt Thistlethwaite speak at a school opening in hostile territory last year. Did a good job.

    His name is one tongue twister though.

    Thomson's legal postion has diminished now that the decision in Toyota Materials has been handed down which means the 6 year limitation period does not apply to offences against the FWA Act.

    1. Hack. Same reasoning as with Michelle Rowland.

      I'm not going to get all bush-lawyer on Thomson but was unsure he relied on that provision.

    2. Yeah, he did - it was the basis for Thomson's solicitor McArdle's statement about striking a large slab of the case out.

      In fact here is an update from Thomson's local:


      Delay is political doom for Thomson.

  3. Obama has lifted the bar

    The next gen need to step up to the plate and compete at that level

  4. I think you're being a bit harsh putting Dougy Cameron on your list of dead wood, but I agree with the rest (or at least the ones I've heard of).

  5. I've always had a soft spot for Macklin; I think it's when I saw her crying after Beazley lost the ballot to Rudd and she lost her deputy leader spot to Gillard. She has a homely, motherly vibe that disarms me, even though it's been weathered by her tough stance on welfare.
    Recent foible aside, she more than most ministers has managed to get her agenda through. Ignoring what you might think of it -- extending the intervention, introducing income management, negotiating an outcome to Wilkie's pokies legislation minefield and now having the multi-billion dollar NDIS to call her own -- she has been busy doing stuff that doesn't die in a reps/senate vote.
    If you want to throw a minister that is more deserving, i believe, on the scrap heap then Bowen is your man. Talk about failing to get your agenda up! I think you've written previously that if his heart was really in the portfolio he would play tougher with Morrison.

    On the Liberal side I always got the impression Bill Heffernan is very active on farming issues, especially coal seam gas encroachment. And has been willing to work across the divide with the Greens on such matters.

    1. Bowen has life so long as mandatory detention has life. To throw Bowen under the bus would be a sign that immigration policy is changing.

      Heffernan was nowhere on wheat sales; that was Julie Bishop's doing. He's one of those Northern Dream/Foodbowl people, who believe in public infrastructure for small numbers of landholders in the Top End.

  6. u need Indians

  7. Bit rough having Dean Smith in the list, seeing as he's only been in the job for a few months. Barry Haase deserves a spot though.

    1. Fair enough. I overlooked Haase, and Rowan Ramsey (who represents Whyalla, among other places, for the Liberals).

  8. Ron Boswell has announced that this is his last term.

  9. Mr-Poodle made the list for excessive `mincing` at the dispatch box.
    Mr-Rabbit should be on the list, he is a `stunt`man and better suited to Hollywood. He has failed to cobble together any kind of costed `alternative` government.
    Why not on List?
    Mr-Talkbull has lent his arse and credibility to Lead Mr-Rabbits NBN demolition squad. Sharing this lack of vision and brains in the digital age qualifies him for the List.
    Doesn`t it?

  10. Another Howard regime left-over, sloppy Joe Hockey, the numbers never add up, budget replies are weak.
    How much longer should they keep this fine piece of Lumber?

    1. There's life in him yet.

    2. I would agree with that Andrew going by Bruce Hawkers Smokin Joe Blog entry

  11. Humphries in the ACT may get the shove but more to do with the local Liberal leader, Seselja, who has now lost out to the labor party, twice, as Chief Minister.

    1. He may get ousted by a Green. Seselja is trying to foist both economic rationalism and conservatism onto an electorate receptive to neither, he's a turkey but the ACT Libs are full of them.

  12. reminds one of a sporting team that will not let go their
    players, when the team is doing well, with out thinking of building with younger members then crunch time the team starts losing

    i do have a word press name but the system says i do not
    so have to be annon

  13. You should have substituted Laurie Ferguson for Martin

    1. Why, Laurie is a complete waste of time and space. Gillard though should be on the list, she is a freak show.

    2. Laurie has earned his place. Should've added Chris Hayes - the wounds left by Latham should've healed by now, the Michael Hatton of our times.

  14. Paul Neville is retiring, Scullion should be with the Nationals as he sits with them. Scullion isn't dead wood though. I know you dislike Greg Hunt and Julie Bishop, but both have important positions and still deserve a chance. If Abbott loses it would be interesting to see what happens to both. Hunt might be able to actually pursue certain matters.

    Agree with most of the rest of the list. I would ask why you link Mason so strongly with Brandis. They are both Queenslanders, but that isn't enough of a reason.

    Queensland Observer

    1. Neville is off, not sure why you assert Scullion isn't dead wood.

      Hunt's credibility is gone over his environment policy. Itr's stupid and wrong and the worst thing is, he knows it. How much credibility would Malcolm Turnbull have as a monarchist? About as much as Hunt has, in Environment or anything else.

      Julie Bishop has been a lightweight in foreign affairs, and is hit-and-miss as a political fixer. She's finished.

      Brandis and Mason finish one another's sentences and travel together, if you're going to dump one you have to dump both.

    2. Scullion actually has moden ideas about regional and remote Australia. He is contributing something unlike most of the Nats who are still stuck on Fadden and McEwan era ideology. He also was the architect (along with James McGrath) of the NT election win.

      You might be correct with Hunt - but time and a move of portfolio could save him.

      Bishop just has the wrong portfolio.

      I think it would be interesting to see how Mason performs without Brandis. give him half a term and dump him if he doesn't.

      Queensland Observer

  15. I notice Michelle Grattan was critical of the Prime Minister today.

    1. You mean this? Grattan basically agrees that Gillard did what other PMs before her, and agrees that Peris > Crossin in parliament (nerves notwithstanding). Even so, the main thrust of her objections is: ooh, she's so pushy.

    2. Was certainly odd, since she actually agreed - and the subbies didn't help with the online headlines

  16. "The list excludes a number of Last Chance Larrys/Lisas"

    Or Louises? I don't know what Markus has done to justify her parlimentary existence.

    1. Nor do I, but she's in a marginal. Once you start dumping too many marginal seat MPs you skew the election. The voters will deal with her, trust the voters.

    2. As I'm in her electorate I'm chafing at the bit - unfortunately apart from giving Susan Templeman a clear run this time I can't tell what Labor's strategy is.

  17. Can we construct a similar list for the press gallery? Plenty of dead wood there.

    1. Easier to identify the living tissue there.

  18. The nsw labour party are the worst in Australia

    New blood is required and new ideas

    Furthermore media is changing with new blood at commercial stations

    Eg Tom Elliot at 3aw

    Waleed Aly needs to take over John Faine at the A.B.C

    1. I think this election will not be kind to NSW Labor, basically because their pre-eminent national position in that party will be diluted by gains elsewhere.

      Interesting that you see politics and media as indistinguishable.

    2. Not indistinguishable Andrew

      Just a generational change that is occuring with old media

  19. Add Phoney Tony Abbot to the list and I'm with you!

    1. If ever there was a Last Chance Larry, he's it. Trust the voters!

  20. What about Barnaby Joyce? As he dilutes both the National and the Coalition message and annoys the hell out of the corporate and large individual donors to the Liberal Party. You could argue that he is the Lee Rhiannon of the Conservative/Rural Socialist rump. I would keep Heffernan over Joyce any day!

    1. He has no future as a heavy-hitter, but like Danby above he has a real constituency that is yet to be fully tested. He is positioning himself to emerge fronm the rubble that Abbott will leave behind.

  21. http://m.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/katter-party-hopeful-in-gay-furore-20130123-2d75p.html

    What about The Australia Party Andrew?


    1. Only has one member at the moment, and he's hardly dead wood.

  22. Fiona Patton and The Australian Sex Party is one to watch with interest.

    She is going to stand for a senate seat this year

  23. Listen to Radio Nstional Drive with Waleed Aly this year

    Very impressive show and Waleed has the credentials and is highly respected in many circles.

    Gold interviews last year with many of the hacks in parliament.

    Nice to listen to.

  24. Youre a mindfuck Andrew!!!

    Love this blog...........

  25. ok, you might never see labor's claire moore on the news, but she really is one of the hardest working senators out there in terms of comittees etc. so much so that she was actually told to cut her workload some time back. no, she doesn't get her mug in the news like barnaby joyce et al, but then she is doing what she is paid to do.

    1. Many quite achievers in politics


      Its the media whores I dont always trust including the commentariat

    2. Fair enough, let's give Moore the benefit of the doubt.

  26. Pardon me for pointing out a little omission. This article started by discussing the issue of removing Trish Crossin as Senator and replacing her with Nova Perris. Before it even got down to discussing this issue other than labelling Trish Crossin as "dead wood",the author deftly moved the discussion to identifying other in their opinion dead wood in Canberra. This is a ploy used by leftist's when faced with or explaining a tricky situation.

    1. Is it? In this case, this blog avoids delving into NT Labor politics and this tradition continues here. I wanted to address the issue of political "dead wood", and it's my blog, and insofar as it is an omission at all it's only a "little" one as you say - so bugger it.

  27. Get rid of the age journalists

    Especially Julie Szego and those over 50