Carmel Tebbutt, the former NSW Education Minister, is set to become the new Deputy Premier. The sudden resignation of her left-faction colleague, John Watkins, left a hole to be filled. John Watkins was seen as the "nice guy" - he was Education Minister for a short time, charged with calming troubled waters. He has, however, been unable to successfully master union control within the NSW Transport portfolio, especially the railways.
Carmel Tebbutt is "good news" for Premier Morris Iemma - she is seen as hard-working, a mother who put her young family ahead of her career as a Minister for more than twelve months. Caucus will approve her appointment tomorrow, following her left faction colleagues voting to support her.
Morris Iemma will also announce his "new" reshuffled ministry. If Reba Meagher, Frank Sartor, Michael Costa and John Della Bosca stay, it will be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic! The last 3 of those WILL stay, and Costa will stay as Treasurer, party bully, and scourge of infrastructure investment - Iemma needs their influence and followers to stay, so they will remain, although not necessarily where they are. Reba Meagher is not only unpopular with voters as Health Minister, but is seen as incompetent: she will be lucky if she is moved to an outer Ministry, and not dumped to the backbenches. There is a growing perception that Sartor approves developments that suit donors to the ALP, and which are contrary to his senior Departmental Officer's advice.
Media report suggest Ms Tebbutt is being groomed to take over as Premier. Morris Iemma is unpopular, and seen as ineffective, by voters; unpopular with NSW ALP Executive; and Labor MP's and MLC's because of his defiant stance over the "sale" of NSW electricity assets.
In 2009, Iemma will have served long enough to qualify for extra "retirement benefits" as a long-serving Premier. These include an office; staff; and car. It would be an opportune time for him to stand down, giving Carmel Tebbutt 15-18 months to establish her image before the next election. Cynical? Probably, but that's the reality of how politicians work for their own interests.