House of cards

Tony Abbott takes the opportunity of Arthur Sinodinos’s departure to strengthen his cabinet team/rearrange the deckchairs. Left untouched is Joe Hockey, whose mounting unpopularity is confirmed by an Essential Research poll.

Tony Abbott has reshuffled his cabinet in response to Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos’s announcement of his decision to step down, together with the government’s general state of disarray. The principal changes are that Defence Minister David Johnston has been dumped from cabinet to the back bench, and Sussan Ley fills his cabinet vacancy as Health Minister, having previously been Assistant Education Minister. This initiates a game of musical chairs in which Defence goes to Kevin Andrews; Andrews’ portfolio of Social Services goes to Scott Morrison; and Morrison’s portfolio of Immigration and Border Protection goes to Peter Dutton, the former Health Minister.

The promotion of Ley and the departure of Sinodinos leaves two vacancies in the outer ministry, which are filled by the promotion from parliamentary secretary of Josh Frydenberg, who takes Sinodinos’s role, and Simon Birmingham, who takes Ley’s. The second casualty of the reshuffle together with Johnston is Queensland Senator Brett Mason, who has lost his position as parliamentary secretary. The three parliamentary secretary vacancies are filled by Christian Porter, slightly compensating the Western Australian contingent for the dumping of Johnston; and Kelly O’Dwyer and Karen Andrews, who together with Ley’s promotion to cabinet alleviate the front-bench’s glaring deficiency of women.

All of which gives me a helpful opportunity to launch a new thread as the Christmas/New Year poll drought takes hold. There is also the following to relate:

• The one new poll to keep us amused is an Essential Research survey conducted for The Australian, which found Chris Bowen with a narrow 29% to 27% lead over Joe Hockey on the question of “who would you trust to handle the economy”, compared with a lead for Hockey of 34% to 23% in August. More contentiously, respondents were asked to nominate “Australia’s best treasurer of the past 40 years”, but with only five options included – it apparently being taken for granted that no one would nominate Jim Cairns, Bill Hayden, Phillip Lynch, John Kerin, Ralph Willis, John Dawkins or Chris Bowen, even to the extent that no “others” option was included. The responses ran, in order, Peter Costello (30%), Paul Keating (18%), John Howard (12%), Wayne Swan (8%), Joe Hockey (4%). The Australian’s report by Troy Bramston rather audaciously sold this Hockey being “regarded as the worst treasurer of the past 40 years”. Even when better structured than this, I doubt the utility of such polls, which often reflect the degree of competition for the esteem of partisans of one side over the other. It would be more instructive if respondents were rate each contestant in turn favourably or unfavourably. More on this from Kevin Bonham

• Labor is set to have two changes to its Senate line-up early in the new year, the first being the result of John Faulkner’s retirement next month. His vacancy will be filled by Jenny McAllister, the party’s national president and a colleague of Faulkner in the Left, who joined him in advocating for reform to the party’s preselection processes earlier in the year. McAllister was preselected to replace Faulkner in July after he announced he would not contest the next election.

• Labor’s Senate position in the Australian Capital Territory is set to pass from Kate Lundy to Katy Gallagher, following the former’s surprise announcement last month of her intention to retire, and the latter’s resignation from her position as the ACT’s Chief Minister. Lundy will depart on March 31, creating a casual vacancy to be filled by Gallagher the following day. Gallagher was encouraged to take the position by Senator Penny Wong, who shares her alignment with the Left, and Bill Shorten. She has been succeeded as Chief Minister by her former deputy, Andrew Barr, a move which had Gallagher’s endorsement despite Barr’s alignment with the Right.

• Katy Gallagher’s vacancy in the ACT region of Molonglo will be determined by a countback, with reference to Gallagher’s preference votes from the last election. According to Kirsten Lawson of the Canberra Times, “Labor number-crunchers” expect the seat to go to Meegan Fitzharris, chief-of-staff to Andrew Barr, who was the third-strongest performing candidate on Labor’s ticket at the 2012 election with 2.9% of the vote, behind Gallagher (26.2%) and Barr (4.2%). Preferences nonetheless resulted in the third Labor seat going to incumbent Simon Corbell (2.1%).

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

2,246 comments on “House of cards”

  1. Re the CH 9 interview with the Foreign Minister. Was it 30+ overseas trips etc. etc. ???

    Were it former FM Rudd or FM Carr the reporting would have been much more simple – “Labor Foreign Minister jet-setting around the world at great cost to Aussie taxpayers. Just so wasteful”.

    Some people would have us believe the MSM isn’t biased!

  2. All the anti religion people out there never consider that the green movement is a religion like any other. The same people who decry the school chaplain programme are the same people who think taxpayers should subsidize green policies. A religion is a religion.

  3. Desert Fox@2189

    Shellbell,

    The gun was illegally obtained, a point lost on the anti-gun lobby. Australia is awash with illegal guns which invariably end up with the likes of Monis and co. Even if you banned all guns outside the police and military, criminals would still get them. The problem is that the penalty for illegal possession is pathetically weak.

    So we should have stronger checks before gun licenses are issued and stronger deterrents for illegal gun possession?

    Sounds ok to me – I don’t know why everyone here thinks you are stupid.

  4. Desert Fox@2202

    All the anti religion people out there never consider that the green movement is a religion like any other. The same people who decry the school chaplain programme are the same people who think taxpayers should subsidize green policies. A religion is a religion.

    What loony cult are you mixed up in? The same one as Scott Morrison? You do seem to talk in tongues.

  5. Desert Fox@2202

    All the anti religion people out there never consider that the green movement is a religion like any other. The same people who decry the school chaplain programme are the same people who think taxpayers should subsidize green policies. A religion is a religion.

    Ok – now I do realize why everyone here thinks you are stupid.

  6. [Were it former FM Rudd or FM Carr the reporting would have been much more simple – “Labor Foreign Minister jet-setting around the world at great cost to Aussie taxpayers. Just so wasteful”.]

    Not only that, but getting above their stations by storing the mobile numbers of other foreign ministers!

  7. Shellbell and Nicholas

    So what are the differences between the way different states grant bail, and what makes NSW superior, or at least not inferior to the other states? Granting or withholding bail has really serious consequences, what is the advantage of our system in NSW compared to, say South Australia?

  8. [Seriously, DF is worrying me.]

    I don’t know why. DF is yanking y’all’s chain in classic troll like behaviour.

    Why you bother to respond to its rubbish is anyone’s guess.

  9. confessions@2210

    Seriously, DF is worrying me.


    I don’t know why. DF is yanking y’all’s chain in classic troll like behaviour.

    Why you bother to respond to its rubbish is anyone’s guess.

    It’s Christmas. It is incumbent on all of us to be charitable to those less well-off intellectually.

  10. [Why you bother to respond to its rubbish is anyone’s guess.]

    Good point. My bad.

    I guess because a lot of his rhetoric is stuff some on the Right would like to become popular and can incite some hateful stuff.

    But I’ll stop feeding him and treat him like ESJ and just scroll past.

  11. If the greens movement can be regarded as a religious, then I can only fear that the Bolt and Alan Jones fanatics will start asking for a tax free status soon.

  12. So Nicholas et al, we just have to wait, twiddling our thumbs until the next one comes along? I’m all ears, tell us how you would stop these attacks?

    Such events hardly ever occur in Australia. When they occur they are horrible and tragic and deeply distressing, but they are not a significant threat to the wellbeing of Australians. The incidence of the events is simply too rare to change our way of life.

    It is not possible to read minds and forestall every act of violence. In the Monis case, there was no pattern, no forewarning, no possibility of prevention. It was a freak event. Monis was a known slimeball but he was not known for violence of such a degree as to rule out bail. I know some people argue that the sex offence charges should have been considered as evidence of violence. All sex crimes involve violence of some kind – psychological, emotional, abuse of trust, abuse of power – some involve physical force as well. I do not believe that the charges against Monis – a spiritual leader who sexually exploited his followers – rose to a level that would justify withholding bail, and I do not believe that such a decision would have been justified under the relevant rules. Some people are calling for all sex offence defendants to be denied bail, which I find abhorrent on civil rights grounds – after all, we are talking about charges, not convictions. Most sex offenders rely on charisma and trust and respectability to gain access to their victims and to get away with their crimes. If a person is charged with offences, the resulting publicity denies the person those things. If they live in the community during their trial, they are unlikely to have opportunities to re-offend because potential victims will be on their guard. This dynamic would not be enough to stop the most violent offenders from posing a threat to the public, and bail is rightly refused in those cases.

  13. Hello Desert Fox. I see that you have once again chosen to grace us with your presence, to bring the one true gospel of Team Australia to the heathens.

    But I fear you will have very little impact. Murdoch memes, talkback hot buttons and Liberal talking points won’t cut it.

    Why don’t you try to convince us of the rightness of your cause? That it would be beneficial to dismantle Medicare, to wind back the social security net, to let big corporations have their way; and to reduce employee bargaining power in the work place. That we are spending too much on health and education, that private providers could do better.

    You probably believe that climate change is a fraud, so you efforts to dismantle or stymie any effective action to combat it. Do you support wasting a few billion to pretend to tackle climate change through Direct Inaction?

    Perhaps you believe that our nation should be ethnically and religiously homogeneous. Certainly the party you support dogwhistles to people that think so. Do you? Or do you want to justify your party rallying such people to its cause?

  14. Now, on the topic of “Operation: Something about Bishops and Abbots. I dunno.” (The possibility of the party turning to Bishop), I wonder if those in the media who are for the idea will be divided between the pragmatic (who’d support Bishop) and the hardliners (who’d want someone like Morrison.) Maybe some of the hardliners wouldn’t back Morrison because they wouldn’t want to waste him on what could be a short stint.

    Yes, I know I am being a bit fanciful with my speculation but it’s Christmas week. There’s not much else to talk about right now. 😛

  15. [I guess because a lot of his rhetoric is stuff some on the Right would like to become popular and can incite some hateful stuff.]

    I doubt anything DF posts here is going to incite hatred towards anyone other than towards DF. It’s like those Labor voters here wringing their hands for a leadership change to Albo. Ultimately, regardless of their agitations and whingeing, nothing changes in the real world.

  16. [Seriously, DF is worrying me. I am worried that he is going to be on the news soon after shooting up a mosque. Someone should keep an eye on him. He doesn’t seem that stable.]

    I doubt he’s in that league. More likely a regular fuckwit.

  17. Whatever is happening in Liberal Land, they are definitely keeping JBishop as a go-to candidate should Abbott’s leadership become untenable.

    But in any case, the sheer plumping of her personally is galling after all the crap they flayed at Gillard (much of it from JBishop herself) for supposedly doing the same.

  18. NathanA

    I don’t know the SA system but Bail applications are heavily influenced by the quality of the prosecutor’s summary of the facts which is what the magistrates read first.

    The quality of the DPP and their workload are consequently vital.

    I would have granted bail to the woman who put her newborn in the pit next to the road several weeks ago. What help will she get inside?

  19. [2214
    Nicholas

    It is not possible to read minds and forestall every act of violence. In the Monis case, there was no pattern, no forewarning, no possibility of prevention.]

    Clearly, by your own account as well as his record, there were plenty of signs that Monis was prone to violent behaviours.

    […Monis was a known slimeball but he was not known for violence of such a degree as to rule out bail.

    In Western Australia, Monis most certainly would not have been bailed given the nature of the charges and his history.

    [I know some people argue that the sex offence charges should have been considered as evidence of violence. All sex crimes involve violence of some kind – psychological, emotional, abuse of trust, abuse of power – some involve physical force as well.]

    Yes, on the basis of your own summary, Monis was a violent individual who should never have been bailed.

    [I do not believe that the charges against Monis – a spiritual leader who sexually exploited his followers – rose to a level that would justify withholding bail, and I do not believe that such a decision would have been justified under the relevant rules.]

    Then the rules are wrong. They should be changed.

  20. Under John Howard we were all alarmed by all the terrorist chatter. Under Rudd and Gillard the terrorists stopped chattering and found other things to do with their time.
    As soon as Abbott took over we once again have terrorists everywhere and we all need to be alarmed but not afraid.
    Why do terrorists disappear under ALP governments?

  21. Boy I can’t wait for Ms Bishop (J) to take over – let’s see her keep the rabble in hand … With her head so far up her own backside she is incoherent …

  22. Hey BW,
    Hope you and your family had a great Christmas.
    I hope Bluey is happy and relaxed.
    Let us all hope that the reshuffle promotes abotts demise.

  23. A late comment on Harry Sidler, by world standards a very second rate Architect, his finest work was the Australia Square Tower & complex, ( in Sydney ) in reality it was designed by his engineer, Pier Luigi Nervi.
    Nervi also did work for one of Italies finest modernist Architects Gio Ponti

    For those interested in arichitecture is worth looking at Goole images.

  24. I tried much earlier to explain how the GST worked and I understand I failed so I’ll skip the law bits and just go to the conclusions:

    – there isn’t really a loophole or problem that needs to be solved based on the GST Act – Australian retailers are mostly making it up and to the extent the retail lobby aren’t completely manufacturing the problem it is already in the ATO’s power to attack it at the supplier level and only an absolute fool would consider attacking it at a customer level.

    – the only fair way to attack it at the customer level as absurd and stupid as that would be is to treat all imports including by travelers exactly the same and I for one cannot not imagine every person entering Australia (except tourists) having to complete a detailed GST returns complete with appropriate valuations.

  25. [2221
    Steve777

    Julie Bishop is a mediocrity surrounded by clowns, imbeciles and pygmies.]

    There are 74 Liberal MHRs and 27 Liberal Senators (not including any Nationals or Country Liberals), for a total of 101 in the party room.

    Julie Bishop needs 51 to roll Abbott. She would get to within striking distance of this number from WA (12 members + 6 senators), SA (6+5) and Victoria (14+3) where Abbott is deeply unpopular. However, to topple Abbott she would also need to recruit a few more from Tasmania (3+4), QLD (16+4), The Territories (1 senator) and NSW (23+4).

    She must have a reasonable bloc. In the shuffle, Abbott moved to bolster his support in Victoria and NSW. I guess whether Abbott will survive mostly depends on Queensland. He must have some enemies there – Entsch, maybe now also Dutton and Mason too – and there would be a significant number in danger of losing their seats on current polling.

    Will dissatisfaction with Abbott swell enough to propel Bishop to the leadership?

  26. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/newspoll/newspoll-coalition-dives-but-alps-joy-limited/story-fnc6vkbc-1227167497445
    [Newspoll: Coalition dives but ALP’s joy limited
    THE AUSTRALIAN DECEMBER 27, 2014 12:00AM
    Phillip Hudson Bureau Chief Canberra

    THE Abbott government has suffered a sharp plunge in support across all states over the past year and is significantly behind Labor in two-party-preferred terms everywhere except in Western Australia.

    In Victoria, the Coalition’s primary vote has tumbled to a six-year low while the ALP’s support is at a four-year high in Tony Abbott’s home state of NSW, where Bill Shorten ranks as the better prime minister.

    Country voters have also put the opposition ahead in two-party terms for the first time since 2010.

    An analysis of Newspolls conducted exclusively for The Australian from October to this month reveals that, over the past 12 months, the Coalition’s primary vote has tumbled 10 points in Victoria and South Australia, nine points in NSW, eight points in Queensland and seven points in Western Australia.]
    Full Table
    http://resources.news.com.au/files/2014/12/26/1227167/481924-aus-file-federal-newspoll.pdf

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/not-quite-cooked-but-abbott-feeling-the-heat/story-e6frg6n6-1227167411033
    [Not quite cooked but Abbott feeling the heat
    THE AUSTRALIAN DECEMBER 27, 2014 12:00AM
    Phillip Hudson Bureau Chief Canberra

    THIS month, Tony Abbott quietly reached 450 days in power and overtook Joseph Cook to be Australia’s 21st longest-serving prime minister.

    It means Cook keeps the unwelcome title of the shortest-serving elected prime minister.

    Cook came to power 100 years earlier than Abbott, in 1913, and like Abbott never controlled the Senate. In frustration, he called the nation’s first double dissolution election, which coincided with the outbreak of World War I, and he lost.

    Abbott is not yet halfway through his term and is unlikely to rush to a double dissolution, but the latest Newspoll showing heavy swings against the Coalition in Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Queensland suggest he is at risk of matching Cook’s fate.

    While there hasn’t been a
    one-term government since the hapless James Scullin lost in 1931 in the shadow of the Great Depression, there have been a surprisingly long list of prime ministers who have won only one election: Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Paul Keating, John Gorton, Harold Holt, Ben Chifley, John Curtin, Edmund Barton, Scullin and Cook. Seven others ruled without ever winning an election.

    A sobering thought for Abbott is that, in the past 50 years, only John Howard, Bob Hawke, Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam have won more than one election.]

  27. When the GST was introduced the import threshold was $400. It was increased to $1000 when the compliance cost became evident. It should only be reduced again if compliance costs can be reduced, and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

  28. 2236

    The common factor between those 4 PMs (and all other PMs who have won multiple elections since Lyons) is that they were the leader who won from opposition. That is actually in Abbott`s favour and bucking it would reflect badly on him.

    The only PMs who won from opposition but did not to win 2 elections in a row were Fisher (had previously been PM and then was PM again later), Cook (defeated), Curtin (gained government during the term of a hung Parliament and then died during the next term) and Rudd (replaced by his own party). The only times that leaders who had not lead their party into government from opposition were Hughes (who switched sides while staying PM) and Bruce (who was chosen after Hughes was forced out by the Country party as the condition of joining the Coalition).

  29. 2241
    Red tape that cannot get charged as GST so will come out of general revenue. We will be using our tax dollars to collect a tax because collecting it costs more than it raises. Productivity!

  30. [2172
    Nicholas

    There are established procedures for making decisions about bail. Soothsaying is not among them. I will not blame a magistrate for making a decision which was justified by the legal rules and the facts at hand. I think it’s really interesting that so many people are convinced that writing offensive letters and being charged with sex offences committed by a slimy “spiritual leader” just screams out: murderous nutter! Repugnant, yes. Murderous? No. I can understand a judge deciding that the history of the accused did not indicate potential to commit murder or to intimidate witnesses or to abscond. I think some of the soothsayers are wasted in their current roles. They should get themselves to law school, qualify as barristers, and give the nation the benefit of their presience.

    Th Sydney siege was in no way foreseeable on the basis of the material before the judge.]

    Talk of prescience and soothsaying is absolutely beside the point. If a person has been charged before a magistrate with a serious offense that entails violence, and the magistrate thinks there is a case to answer, they should not be bailed in the ordinary course of things.

  31. [ Simon Katich
    Posted Friday, December 26, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    To be fair to the building and Seidler, it was meant to be a part of a large group of high rise on the point – which was going to be zoned industrial before Seidler (i think) persuaded them to go for high density residential. But after the first was built, the planners/councillors changed their minds.]

    Yep. The other side of the Harbour on the eastern side of the Bridge they planned to build a col fired power station and even built the enormously high chimney stack which is still there today but was never used.

    Bennelong point where the Opera House stands was used as tram sheds.

  32. [Newspoll: Coalition dives but ALP’s joy limited
    THE AUSTRALIAN DECEMBER 27, 2014 12:00AM
    Phillip Hudson Bureau Chief Canberra

    THE Abbott government has suffered a sharp plunge in support across all states over the past year and is significantly behind Labor in two-party-preferred terms everywhere except in Western Australia.]

    Actually, the latest Bludgertrack update put Labor in front in WA as well – 52/48

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