Modia Minotaur

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Reshuffle a-Go Go?

Despite his categorical denials late last year (not that that amounts to a hill of beans - if not the literal truth, perhaps it was, as Oprah Winfrey described James Frey's book, `the emotional truth', rumours are once more rising of a Federal cabinet reshuffle, pending Defence Minister Robert Hill's possible decision to take up a diplomatic post. Andrew Robb (spearhead of the industrial relations campaign) and Malcolm Turnbull are the two names most frequently mentioned for possible elevation; though to my mind, it would be risky to elevate Turnbull. Robb has, at the very least, paid his dues. Elevating Turnbull ahead of longer serving MPs would risk alienating a large segment of the unremarkable but faithful backbenchers on which Howard has built his bedrock.

However, perhaps former golden girl Jackie Kelly is also making a determined tilt at the ministry, with her calls this week to radically overhaul the childcare system. Peter Costello, apparently completely forgetting that he made statements barely a fortnight ago promising to fork money hand over fist to Australian families, has, of course, pooh-poohed the idea and told her to hop on the line.

Kelly, whose seat of Lindsay is in prime mortgage belt territory in Western Sydney, has lurched from `next big thing' to `whatever happened to' over the years since her election in 1996, dropping out of the cabinet in 2004 (to, it must be noted, spend more time with her children). Should a cabinet reshuffle be on the cards, now would be the ideal time for the sharks to circle noted underperformer, Community Services Minister Kay Patterson (who only managed her first major statement about child care late last year), would it not?

Also being muttered about darkly are Veterans Affairs Minister De-Anne Kelly (though anyone has to look like a genius beside her predecessor, legendary blunderer Danna Vale) and Amanda Vanstone (pity the poor fool who inherits her cursed portfolio. But pity us, the other 50% of Australia, even more ...)

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