Saturday, January 27, 2007

Federal Cabinet Reshuffle 2007

John Howard's cabinet reshuffle sees a new PR image occurring: Workplace Relations (WorkChoices) is to have the smiling, amiable Joe Hockey. Amanda Vanstone has been dumped from Immigration, and the Ministry.

In both these cases John Howard needed a fresh face, preferably one that won't be associated with conflict and bad news. Kevin Andrews, as Minister for Workplace Relations, oversaw the introduction of WorkChoices and the demolition of the Federal Industrial Relations Court. He was always a tough-talking, ride roughshod type of Minister. Amanda Vanstone has had to front the media on many occasions, almost all of them associated with bad news: bad news about detention centres involving "The Pacific Solution", mistreatment or maltreatment of detainees, or their incarceration conditions. Voters have begun to associate both with bad things.

Malcolm Turnbull's accelerated approach into Cabinet (a position as a Parliamentary Secretary was only created last year) will see him opposing Labor's Peter Garrett. A smooth-talking Merchant Banker / lawyer versus a former rock star with considerable environmental and street cred. It will be an interesting battle.

The crux of Mr Howard's reshuffle seems to be to put softer-looking people in the Cabinet hot-spots of Immigration and Workplace Relations; and a high-profile NSW banker in charge of the Environment and Water.

The Analyst