Shuffling the deck chairs


by Chris Becker

There are reports this morning that PM Tony Abbott is planning to axe up to six ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle – but not including Joe Hockey –  in what could be a move to forestall another Malcolm Turnbull leadership challenge.

Of course, the report comes from The Daily Telegraph so let’s not put too much weight on it. Regardless, this is just shuffling deck chairs as Abbott’s performance on ABCs 7.30 Report on Wednesday night showed, whereby he explained “stopping the boats helped the economy” and demanded the ABC “talk up the economy”:

Leadership absentia. It’s time to be frank with the Australian people Mr Abbott, not Tiny Tony. They can take the bad news and they don’t need to be “talked up” or see the national broadcaster turned into Pravda.

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      • Morals? Thats is a silly statement. Its politics… you are looking in the wrong place! Politics is the art of getting people to support something that may hurt them in the ST. its a tough gig – and not something I could ever do… Mind you there are five types of democracy’s – with subsets underneath. there is no “right way” I suppose.

        Personally, I believe Australia has lost its way. And it needs tough times to remind people you need to work at it to make a success. There are too many vested interests, on the Left wanting more social largesse which simply doesn’t exist – and on the Right wanting financial benefits without the social obligation.

        Don’t get caught up in the politics, because in reality it doesn’t matter. There are forces far greater than the leader we choose, and the situation they find themselves in. Do you honestly think Bill Shorten will be able to do anything about what is about to arrive? Any leader in History even?

        The answer is of course no. What will happen will happen. Now leaders can make it worse or better. If Bill shorten goes down the populist route, he could borrow and assign Australia another 10 years extra penury (a given in my book, very little spine compared to Hawke or Keating).

        I am not having a go at you, its just light-weight fluff. Circuses for the populace, to give them a sense they are in control. Which we are not.

      • Lmmao researchtime – morals – “Personally, I believe Australia has lost its way. And it needs tough times to remind people you need to work at it to make a success”

        The sheep have strayed from the creators path[?]. And needs to self flagellate [beatings will continue till morale improves] to remind people of the creators gifts [success].

        Skippy…. got any of that “research” to back it up?

      • @RT,

        “Bob Santamaria’s strategy had an essentially religious basis. The work he and his colleagues did was, he believed, a religious more than a political vocation. You had to sacrifice your whole life to it, as a priest or soldier would. The intensity of the religious basis of his motivation is caught in a speech he gave to the Movement in the early 1950s:

        “Arising from that call there is some sort of vocation, and it is my belief that the majority of us will save or lose our souls by the way in which we respond to that challenge.”

        Skippy…. separation, you can see how its working out with Tone….

      • There are too many vested interests, on the Left wanting more social largesse which simply doesn’t exist […]

        More ?

        I think “the Left” would be happy if we simply returned to the “social largess” we used to have a few decades back.

      • “there is no “right way” I suppose.”

        Well you were right about one thing, there is no prefect political system. Nor is there a prefect economic system. We humans make a mess of everything eventually. The best we can hope for is that we learn a few things along the way and make different mistakes next time.

      • People seem to have forgotten how much of a tool Malcolm Turnbull was and how terrible of a leader of the LNP he was.

        MT supports most of the terrible LNP policies and has overseen massive cost and time blowouts in the NBN as well as signing one of the worst deals with Telstra where the public now ends up paying to replace worthless copper wiring assets.

        The ONLY issue where he isn’t terrible is same sex marriage. That’s all.

      • Bobalot – All true. But I’m curious about why the OP thinks Turnbull would be an electoral disaster. I don’t think Turnbulls dog breakfast of an NBN resonates much in the wider community.

      • “Turnbulls dog breakfast of an NBN resonates much in the wider community.”

        You must be kidding me.

        Its front and center everytime he appears in the media – hence – his almost total absence, Labor and Greens have both been holding back on the NBN – the greatest infrastructure disaster in our nations history.

        If Malcom steps in he will be roasted in 2 seconds flat. He would be the worst choice imaginable.

        Boomers who have had no idea about the NBN are now starting to ask serious questions and are shocked at the answers. When you lose faith in someone you trust like Turnbull it hurts vastly more than having your suspicions confirmed by Abbott.

      • @ bobalot
        “MT supports most of the terrible LNP policies and has overseen massive cost and time blowouts in the NBN as well as signing one of the worst deals with Telstra where the public now ends up paying to replace worthless copper wiring assets.”
        While I agree I would qualify that by saying Abbott this up by politicising the NBN and MT simply had to tow the party line and come up with an alternative. I’ll never forget the look on MT’s face when Abbott first announced the alternative LNP NBN plan. He knew it was a bad deal and probably knew that the move had an internal political dimension to it (ie: risks to his electoral popularity). I wouldn’t be surprised if Rupert was quietly cheering/helping Abbott along to. Tragic to see one of the most important infrastructure projects in Australia’s history get derailed by self-absorbed LNP politics – tragic but typical.

        Like you I will always heap scorn on characters like MT for neglecting public interest on major issues like this and not challenging contemptible leaders like Abbott. While I have time for his views on a number of issues, MT is all about MT. I believe his quest for power is more a product of personal desire than a sense of duty. He will inevitably disappoint.

        “I’m curious about why the OP thinks Turnbull would be an electoral disaster”
        Probably because the OP is from someone that has frequently been an advocate of policies from the Christian far right of the LNP.

      • Terror Australis, many people (lefties?) seem to forget that MT presided over one of the biggest dips in primary vote polling the Coalition has ever seen. It fell like 8% overnight thanks to the UteGate nonsense.

  1. Australians cant take bad news. Their voting record for twenty years is symptomatic of that.

    The disastrous Howard years were an expression of ‘no more change, I can’t handle it”.

  2. Can we get some bookies odds on which Ministers he wants to axe?

    If Hockey is staying then “competence in role” obviously isn’t a relevant criteria.

    • You can get 2.25 on Hockey not being the Treasurer at the next election.

      And a measley 5.00 on ScoMo being PM at the time of the next election.

  3. FWIW Grattan saw the briefing to the Toilet Paper as significant as a semi-official leak from the PM’s office.

    • I find it hard to believe that a major Cabinet reshuffle would give Abbott more support in the party-room rather than less. Surely the idiots in Cabinet now are largely there due to their power rather than their competence and turfing them would mean a net loss in support for Abbott?

    • That’s what I reckon too, AB. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised. Abbott ain’t exactly a strategic thinker.

      • Agreed but he usually errs on the side of not removing incompetents rather than actually doing something about them.

        I reckon this is a leak from MT or ScoMo.

  4. “… a Cabinet reshuffle – but not including Joe Hockey…”
    So ….Joe is out, completely; not even reshuffled?!

  5. I’ll take a punt.
    – Peter “do nottin” Dutton 5/1
    – Kevin “vouchers” Andrews 8/1
    – Chris “the fixer” Pyne 20/1
    – Barnaby “world’s gone mad” Joyce 20/1
    – Andrew “brushing up my CV” Robb 20/1
    – Malcolm “leaks? what leaks?” Turnbull 25/1

  6. Terror Australis

    Tis a hard market to price coz they’re all just ultra f#cking bad.

    My market would look like this

    Entire front bench: 10/1 ON

    • Marshy you are totally correct. Make sure Farmer Truss (the incompetent is included)
      This sack the Aussie ships crew and replace with foreigners, for the Canning election, will be just too much. WW

      BTW, I have a simple electronic project you may be able to run with, email me.

  7. I want Andrew Robb gone.. hopefully that will delay something that will definitely cause longer-term damage.. All the so-called trade deals.

    PS: I am in the US on E3 visa, a product of USFTA. Not a big fan of Paul Krugman, but he something very relevant about temp migration visas like 457s and E3s.

    On the China-Australia free trade agreement, Professor Krugman said a trade agreement in the twenty-first century should be viewed with a degree of suspicion.

    “In the twenty-first century, trade agreements are mostly not trade agreements. Actually trade of goods, and to an extent services, is pretty free so when someone calls something a trade agreement, it’s mostly about things like intellectual property, so I would start from the position of suspicion.

    “I’m against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s actually about other stuff and it doesn’t actually look like a good idea.”

    Professor Krugman said bringing in foreign workers under a complete open border policy could be incompatible with maintaining a strong social safety net.

    Under the proposed China-Australia free trade agreement, the government can, but is not required, to test the availability of Australian workers before allowing in Chinese workers.

    “If you don’t feel at all conflicted about international labour mobility then there’s probably something wrong with you because there are real tradeoffs involved, particularly for advanced countries that are experiencing slowing growth of the labour force and ageing populations.

    “If you’re trying to sustain a strong social safety net, completely open borders are not going to be compatible with that, so there is a tradeoff,” he said.

    Professor Krugman added at least in the case of US, allowing in migrant workers without a path to citizenship could be detrimental.

    “On the whole I always lean towards allowing more, rather than less immigration, but it is tough. And for the US I would favour reasonably permissive but not wide open borders and above all, a path to citizenship.

    “If you don’t feel you can do that you shouldn’t be allowing in the immigrants at all because one thing that is terrible is creating a permanent class of second-class residents

    Read more:

    • ErmingtonPlumbing

      Yes, notice Abbott steering the 7.30 report discussion to these deals, as some kind of positive (Almost Desperately).

      Geez i’d like to see Pyney go,….. he’s a [email protected] of a bloke.! Probably the one with the least to fear from Abbott’s reshuffle. 😉

      • Pynne’s a dead man walking in his electorate.
        He has plenty on his mind.
        Wouldnt surprise me if he is leaking either.

      • Regardless, whether you agree with that point of view or not …
        I got the impression from his interview on Insiders that maybe he’s at a point in his life where sitting in the Opposition benches again doesn’t hold much appeal. If the govt is heading for a wipe-out (as looks probable) I doubt he will recontest. The PMs office might already be aware of this.

      • Robb is a neoclassical 3d1k, that makes him a Friedmannite and how do you think we got here in the first place[?]…. socialists?

      • Jack the Ripper delivered on what he set out to do, it doesn’t mean the rest of us should reward his efforts.

      • Ok.. Julie Bishop then.. I know you have a crush on her .. LOL..

        BTW, an endorsement from you is like signing the death warrant for that person on MB.

  8. FiftiesFibroShack

    Yeah, it’s from a garbage paper, but Albo described the Telegraph as “an annexe of the PM’s media office” which, while funny, isn’t that far off.

  9. Julie Bishop/ScoMo/MT – PM preferences in that order. Let them pick their team.

    The Government has successfully fulfilled three key election guarantees: ending the boats, carbon tax, mining tax. Sure, it hasn’t had much luck getting any fiscal reforms thru – but hey, what the hell – Labor doesn’t want them, the Senate doesn’t want them and much of the media couldn’t wait to destroy prospects for change. The government then modifies its program – does exactly what everyone wants – or at least can agree on – nothing. Then more complaints! For not pushing forward reforms – when no one wants them and cried like babies at the prospect of any changes the first time around!!

    Abbott and Hockey, good people, not able to bring the media and hence the public with them. Won’t win the next election under current leadership (barring a miracle…) and God knows, putting Shorten’s ragtag remnants of the last government promises more of the RGR years, internecine internal battles and an explosion of debt and deficit.

    Rusty Penny is probably right, people don’t want the truth – at least if it’s not their truth – same goes for reforms.

    • FiftiesFibroShack

      “people don’t want the truth – at least if it’s not their truth – same goes for reforms.”

      You’re one of those people.

    • “Shorten’s ragtag remnants of the last government promises more of the RGR years, …..and an explosion of debt and deficit.”

      Apologies to ‘when Keating attacks’..

      “Who gave us $111 billion of government debt in a little over 2 years?…Tony Abbott”

      • Baked in Rusty. Previous Government policies ensure this. Without reforms to both expenditure and taxation, will only get worse.

      • Baked in since 2004 champ.

        The ALP, when they came to power after the disastrous Howard years, did endeavour for some lavish capital outlays, but didn’t do much to affect ongoing expenditures.

    • “The Government has successfully fulfilled three key election guarantees: ending the boats, carbon tax, mining tax. “
      So their 3 great “successes” are either politically contrived non-issues and/or retrograde measures that damaged the economy and society in the long run. Get a real job 3D.

      • “Effectively, the new rules, which double the taper rate at which the pension reduces against assets held, penalise those with more assets and provide a compelling incentive to save less and/or spend more on, say, home improvements.”

        What’s wrong with being independent of government and avoiding having to deal with Centrelink if you can afford it?! The asset test doesn’t even include the family home for god’s sake! Plus many have probably received generous tax concessions on their super alone the way.

        “Rescinding the carbon and mining taxes, thereby improving the competitive position of Australian industry.”

        Now Australia has to lobby to ensure the rest of the world doesn’t move on pricing carbon (leaving us behind).

        “Signing three important free trade agreements.”

        Rushing three important free trade agreements. I’m sure nothing in the fine print will come back to bite us!

        “Putting the NBN on a practicable basis.”

        “Introducing measures to better combat domestic terrorism.”

        At what cost? How much power does the government and police need to do their job?!

        Peter Smith is a former bank economist


  10. The Canning byelection is going to be reported as bad news for Abbott no matter what.
    The Liberal Party’s primary vote at the last election was 51% and there is no way it will be that high with 12 candidates. Plus the Liberal Democrats are second on the ballot and they are likely to get a proportion of Liberal voters (like slow, sleepy or short sighted). So the primary swing in double digits is quite possible and will be what will focused on by the media in even of a lackluster two party preferred swing.

    • I will be astounded at anything less than a 6% 2PP swing.
      In those circumstances, you would assume some kind of personnel changes to Cabinet are a foregone conclusion.

      If they lose Canning, I think all bets are off.
      J.Bishop/ScoMo ticket?
      The asbestos lady has been careful not to antagonize the hard right of the party, unlike Turnbull.
      Morrison still too green for the top job. Treasurer quite likely though.

      • The other thing with by-elections is turnout is always on the low side of things. Demotivated Liberal voters might not turn up. So I am expecting a TPP swing of something large but 6% will be written off as a good result by the media.

      • The Canning election will be the test. Abbott will move very quickly with a reshuffle and stack the Ministry with supporters to cut off any chance of a challenge. The only thing Abbott is adept at is saving his own ass and to hell with the rest of us.

    • Just on a side note, the LNP boy Hastie is listed above Labor on the ballot paper so he gets the benefit of any Donkey Vote (which according to Antony Green is usually worth about 1% point, but perhaps a little bit more in an electorate like Canning). He will need every little bit of help.

  11. adelaide_economist

    Good to see the ABC not backing off entirely from questioning this Government. The attempted nobbling mirrors exactly the same technique used by their political similars in Canada and the UK with their public broadcasters.

    And look, for two years Tony’s only answer to ‘achievements’ has been the same old same old (carbon tax, boats). Now apparently it’s ‘free trade agreements’. Never really a vote winner really (certainly not when the economy isn’t firing already) and it’s obvious that Robb’s ‘success’ has simply come about by giving way on virtually every contentious issue in negotiations.

    The problem with deck chair shuffling is that it continues to avoid by far the biggest obstacle to re-election and that’s Tony himself.

    • LMFAO!
      Dutton: “Time doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to have water lapping at your door”.
      Abbott: (Laughs)
      Robb: “There’s a boom (microphone) up there”
      Did you see the look on Dutton’s face after that, riiiight at the end!!. Priceless!! Hahahahahaha!!

      But seriously, Abbott laughing at the effects of climate change and how it is going to affect the poorest people on earth is well, predictable, and chilling at the same time. If I wasn’t laughing I would be on my knees crying and banging my head against a potato. These are the people leading us for fuck’s sake!

      EDIT: Oh wait just like the Celine Dion song It’s all coming back to me now,
      1. Winking at Jon Faine when the lady in her 60s called and said she was working as a phone sex worker to make ends meet
      2. Hockey and Corman smoking cigars after the first austerity budget
      3. Shit happens comment

      I bet this will go viral, like point 1.

    • “Yesterday, a group of scientists warned that because of global warming, sea levels will rise so much that parts of New Jersey will be under water. The bad news? Parts of New Jersey won’t be under water.” –Conan O’Brien

      Move along fellas.

  12. First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

    • The Hindenburg was a marvel of Germanic engineering taken down in a freak accident.
      The Titanic was the embodiment of Britain’s plutocratic hubris and sank thanks to gross incompetence. A much more fitting metaphor imo.