09 June 2009

Shuffle in an echo chamber

I assumed that Fitzgibbon would be big enough to a) hire a smart and experienced person to advise him on big-picture defence issues, and b) would overcome the smalltown mentality that affects many politicians, who see Canberra as just a bigger stage on which to play petty parish-pump politics. We at PoHo Institute were wrong on both counts. Now that he's been kicked in the teeth - and his brother can't be far behind given NIB's performance - the political vacuum that is Labor Newcastle will only suck even harder.

The joint that gave public life such giants as Milton Orkopoulos and Matt Charlton is ripe for an independent politician; someone like Tony Windsor, who can take a one-party town and not so much drag them to the "other side" as get people to look at politics differently. Chances are it will be a disaffected Labor person, who'll use their party to make a name and then step forward when Sussex Street try and do them.

Yeah, I think Faulkner will probably be the best Defence Minister since George Pearce too, but this blog isn't meant to be an echo chamber like the Press Gallery. Here's what I wanted to see explored by those supposedly in the know:

  • First McKew and now Ellis - why is childcare policy shunted to childless women?You'd know Rudd was taking this area seriously if he'd put Mark Arbib in there, rather than the relatively nebulous Government Service Delivery (isn't that what the Finance Minister is for, rather than the sort of abstruse economic commentator role Tanner is playing?)

  • What is Rudd trying to say about infrastructure by putting Maxine McKew in as Parliamentary Secretary to the shambolic and snarling Anthony Albanese? Isn't her job duplicating that of Mark Arbib (isn't everyone's)?

  • Aren't Arbib and Albanese from different factions in NSW Labor, and can the boasting of post-factionalism be believed? It reminded me of Murdoch editors proclaiming their independence.

  • Why did Bob Debus go to all that bother in switching Parliaments just to give it away in the first term? Would Labor really not have won that seat in '07 with someone else?

  • Merit? Muppets like Jason Clare and Richard Marles, merit? Really? Not Julie Owens or Janelle Saffin or Annette Hurley or Kate Lundy or Steve Georganas, or the scarily impressive Melissa Parke?

  • Mark Dreyfus: use him or lose him?

  • Should Bob McMullin, Laurie Ferguson, Jennie George and Kelvin Thomson just give it away? What about the non-jobs for Gary Gray and Warren Snowdon?

  • Robert McClelland: why?

  • Penny Wong: punt her now and get someone effective in time for Copenhagen? An opportunity missed.

  • Chris Bowen: neatly skewered, if too briefly, by Kerry O'Brien tonight as a lightweight. Get over yourself you smug git and do some work. Who do you think you are, Peter Costello?

  • Greg Combet: stretched too far to achieve anything? Can't Mike Kelly or Dreyfus step up into one of these roles?


  1. Depending on what you believe, there's a chance that Bob might not be around at the next election. I'm surprised no one has picked up on pre-selection rumblings in the ACT.

  2. Do tell. Where better than PoHo?