Morrison has failed in his first step as Prime Minister. The continuity of the Morrison Ministerial line up to that of Turnbull’s illustrates a timidity of meaningful change and/or absence of a strong direction he intends to lead the Party with to the general election.
An opportunity to reboot the government with an injection of fresh talent, in portfolios that reflected individual strengths, around policy areas the Coalition desperately needs to find answers to has in the main been lost.
As has the golden opportunity to close the chapter on the Abbott-Turnbull wars, by reinstating Abbott – the Coaltion’s best campaigner – to Cabinet thereby healing wounds within the Party and across the base.
Instead, mediocrity and failure has largely been rewarded, most notably by the promotions of Pyne and Payne, the sideways moves of Birmingham and Ciobo, and the retention of Fifield, Cash and O’Dwyer on the front bench. All should have been demoted.
The promotions of Pyne and Payne are especially egregious. National security is the first priority of government and was once a Coalition strength and differentiator between Liberal and Labor. Thanks to the Mincing Poodle and Major Payne the Coalition has lost all credibility and the nation its ability to properly defend itself in future.
While I appreciate that actual experience, expertise and proven competence in a given portfolio area is a highly novel suggestion, probably a taboo in a Coalition Government, I personally would sleep better knowing that a highly decorated former Major General of the Army (Jim Molan) was guarding the fort rather than the unintelligent Mincing Poodle (Pyne) who is all bark (shrill at that) and no bite.
I would also sleep better knowing that a tough Foreign Minister would work tirelessly to promote our national interests on the world stage and protect our freedoms and sovereignty from those globalists that would eagerly take it away.
With the Minister for Fashion and First Class Travel stepping down Morrison was presented a golden opportunity to return Tony Abbott to Cabinet in a position worthy of a former Prime Minister (notwithstanding the Rudd comparison which looms large in any event).
However, in an act of either diversity insanity and/or sheer bastardry, Morrison preferred to entrust our national interests on the world stage to the ineptitude of Marise Payne rather than the warrior Rhodes Scholar from Warringah.
If Payne fortifies her success in Defence in her new portfolio of Foreign Affairs, Australia will not only be defenceless but also without representation in global affairs, dutifully signing away our sovereignty and democracy on every UN direction without so much as a whimper.
One good move was to promote Dan Tehan into the Education portfolio. He will certainly have his job cut out for him trying to fix the carnage brought about by the IED that is Simon Birmingham. Dan is a safe pair of hands and will work tirelessly to fix the ugly mess that is Commonwealth school funding.
If he can simultaneously eradicate the cultural Marxism and other Lefty tosh infecting curriculum they might even have a winning issue to campaign on. Time will be his worst enemy. The job being Herculean.
While Dan Tehan is a step forward, retaining his predecessor in the Ministry is two steps back (at the very least). It takes a unique combination of skills and political acumen to turn an electoral advantage in school funding since the time of Menzies and turn it into electoral poison in the name of Labor “equity and fairness”. Simon Birmingham stand up and take a bow!
How ScoMo could retain Birmingham in a Cabinet role is mystifying. If he succeeds in Tourism and Trade as well as he did in Education, Australia will be engaged in a trade war with every major trading nation, simultaneously enforcing Labor-Green “fair trade” regulations on every Australian firm, and taxing coal exports to save the planet. On the positive side every toilet in every hotel or tourist attraction across the nation will be regulated to use “ze” or “zir”” or some other nonsensical pronoun.
On the Tourism front Birmo’s major responsibility will be wasting $200 million plus on a cringe worthy Australia travel campaign and rubber stamping “tourism grants” in an exercise of adverse selection where no budget cuts can be found. ScoMo is probably banking on Birmingham coming up with an even worse campaign than his own Laura “where the bloody hell are you” Bingle fiasco to rid himself of the embarrassment.
Without doubt the best move in the new Ministry was the separation of Energy and Environment and the promotion of the very able Angus Taylor to Energy to sort out Australia’s self-inflicted energy crisis. That said, I fear his prospects of fixing the nation’s energy shambles will be cruelled by the promotion of Josh Frydenberg as Deputy Leader.
The victory of Morrison and Frydenberg goes a long way in explaining why there is little change of substance in the new Ministerial line up. Having aligned themselves to Turnbull for individual promotion they carry the baggage of Turnbull’s worst policy failures.
How far can Taylor go, for example, to hit the reset button over energy policy by ripping up the NEG and withdrawing from the Paris Treaty, when that was the signature “achievement” of Josh Frydenberg over the past 18 months? Any Taylor success will be an indictment of Frydenberg. Literally as I type ScoMo has already ruled out withdrawing from Paris. It is looking ominous two days in!.
Ironically, the same applies to Frydenberg. How far can he go on setting a much needed alternative fiscal and budget repair strategy having pinned his colours to the mast of the very architect responsible for the Coaltion’s capitulation in terms of sound economic management? All the while being overseen by the vastly more experienced (and backstabbed) Minister for Finance? Any success by Frydenberg will be an indictment on Morrison and Corman.
To be clear, Morrison and Corman championed the doomed corporate tax cuts right to the death even when the Royal Commission into the banking and financial services sector was producing daily fodder for Labor/Fairfax/ABC et al. of corporate greed and corruption. Both fought tooth and nail against the Royal Commission. Considering Frydenberg is also arguably the least experienced person to take on the role of Treasurer in recent memory, with Morrison and Corman overseeing his every move only an extreme optimist would expect any substantive change of fiscal direction.
Morrison’s record as Treasurer, and hence Turnbull minion, will be problematic in other policy areas. Separating Immigration from Home Affairs may have merit as does the promotion of David Coleman who on paper at least, brings a wealth of private sector expertise as a counter to the majority of career politicians with none.
That said, Immigration seems a waste of Coleman’s said expertise and hence a wasted opportunity to use his talents more effectively. His credentials are strong in the media space would have better suited Communications and the Arts giving the Coalition some chance of reforming the recalcitrant ABC where Fifield has already failed.
Immigration looms as a significant election issue as part of a wider conversation about population policy, cost of living, per capita income, cultural compatibility, refugee policy, terrorism, infrastructure and economic sustainability. These are all issues Tony Abbott raised in recent months and which were petulantly dismissed by Morrison.
Morrison is on record supporting Big Australia regurgitating the Treasury line and shoddy modelling of the alleged economic benefits. It’s difficult to know if Morrison actually believes this or simply needs to continue the Ponzi scheme approach to budgeting to create the fiction he was a Liberal Treasurer. Don’t expect anything other than virtue signalling in this space.
The appointment of Kelly O’Dwyer as Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations and Minister for Women probably best sums up the Morison Ministry. Having never held a real job O’Dwyer is perfectly suited to centrally plan Marxist style job creation for the general economy (presumably all public service dependent). That she only holds this post due to her other role as Minister for Women, which is nothing more than unofficial affirmative action within the Coalition, is almost comical.
O’Dwyers greatest contribution to political life remains the establishment of the free range egg standard when Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer. This being less damaging than her “reforms” to superannuation or handling of the Royal Commission into banking and financial services.
That Karen Andrews’s, who has actual experience in industrial relations, the private sector, small business, heavily unionised industries and dispute resolution, and also ticks the female box (no disrespect intended to Karen, to the contrary), was not given industrial relations in addition to industry shows how warped the Coalition has become.
Heavens forbid a Minister for Industrial Relations be on the side of workplace flexibility, business growth and consequently employment growth rather than militant unionism and declining productivity and has actual experience in the portfolio they head. I admit to knowing little of Andrew’s other than publicly available information, but at face value Andrew’s seems like an infinitely better qualified person to establish non-existent Coalition policy on industrial relations than the empty vessel that is O’Dwyer.
Compounding this error, O’Dwyer will be joined in the portfolio by Michaelia Cash who incidentally preceded O’Dwyer as Minister for Women. How cosy! Joined at the hip and seemingly interchangeable in quota failure. As Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Cash will bring a unique perspective having never run a small business, family business and as far as one can tell, only experience in Vocational Education involves calling for the occasional plumber.
Cash’s pre-political career as a lawyer, specialising in “employment and industrial law including industrial relations” at Freehills, according to her Wikipedia profile, leaves one perplexed how Cash subsequently managed to turn trade union corruption into an election winning issue for Labor. This being after her “office” tipped off the media of forthcoming AFP raids forcing her to be dumped from industrial relations responsibilities and hiding behind a whiteboard entering the parliament. With friends like Cash the small and family businesses of Australia will probably bank on the enemy. That said her nepotistic credentials are impeccable. Who said Labor was a closed shop?
So there we have it. The key takeaways from the Morrison Ministry. Minimal change, compromised from the get go. I rank it as a monumental failure given the necessity of needing a decisive break from business as usual as per the failed Turnbull experiment. However, as that failure was enabled by a Faustian Pact, enabling Morrison (and Frydenberg) to get to the top, they will likely bare the consequences of having sold their soles as they crash to the bottom.
I sincerely hope I am wrong. I sincerely hope Morrison and Frydenberg prove me wrong. The thought of a Shorten Government is terrifying. But I cannot help but think that backroom deals involving faceless Party parasites have lumped the Coaltion with a Leader and Deputy Leader with too much lead in the saddle bags to make the next general election competitive enough to save the furniture. The Morrison Ministry is ominous in this regard. Only time will tell.