Politics in Australia 3 – Labor’s Cabinet

Finally, Kevin Rudd has announced his cabinet. Some surprises to be sure, and some expected. Six former front benchers gone – this I’m not surprised about. To be honest, I thought it could creep as high as eight or nine. Rudd had to find places for the capable, and he had to get rid of those people who were only there for show. There are now a record number of women on the front bench too – something else that wasn’t a surprise after the previous government’s track record, and then social history before that. I guess this should place well with women in the next election too.

It was interesting to note that while Bennelong hasn’t been called yet, Maxine McKew was given a parliamentary secretary position. Of course, she got the biggest one: parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister. She shares this role with Anthony Byrne. If this isn’t grooming then I don’t know what is. The question will be what position will she then be selected for after a stint as a secretary. Julia Gillard is sure to be deputy for a while. Maybe state? Who knows.

Speaking of, Julia Gillard’s role expanded to include education as well. This was a surprise to me. She effectively has three roles – deputy, employment and workplace relations, education – while only one (education) really has any substance after Work Choices has been scrapped. Rudd made is quite logical, however, in his speech as to why the deputy also got education. He said that education was an important part of the campaign, and is now an important part of the government. Therefore, it should logically go to the second-in-command.

Stephen Smith is now the foreign minister. Another surprise for me. I would have liked it if Rudd had kept it to himself, but that was never on. Don’t know how I feel about this. Surely he couldn’t do a worse job than Alexander Downer. He really was stagnant in his role. What can anyone remember him doing?

Wayne Swan, treasurer, and Lindsy Tanner, finance minister, make up the money team, and there’s no surprise there. This was spoken about well before the campaigns ever started. This also proves that the Liberal fear-mongering about ‘anyone’ could get the roles, are dead. Of course, the election proved that as well.

Senator Penny Wong picks up the role of minister of climate change. No surprise here. I never expected Peter Garret, who is now minister for the environment, heritage and the arts, to have the main role of climate change after his goof. Wong is a heavily underrated Labor senator and spokesperson, and it’s good to see her get something substantial, what with Australia signing Kyoto, and then Kyoto plus. Rudd also said that Wong and Garret would accompany him to Bali for the Kyoto meetings, something I feel is a very good idea.

Greg Combet and Mike Kelly both become parliamentary secretaries for defense. I would have thought Mike Kelly got this alone, and Greg Combet would have got something more … union-ish? I guess it could be a move to ‘diversify’ the guy from being ‘just’ an ex-union official. Or it could be a move to make the claim that ex-union officials can do as good a job as anyone, so vote for them again. I seriously expect to see Mike Kelly in with either the defense or the foreign portfolio in the not-too-distant future.

Senator Stephen Conroy is now communications minister. No surprise here. He took Helen Coonan to task for the past year. He went hammer and tong. I also thought he was an underrated Laborite. I guess he would have more of a role had he been in the House and not the Senate.

There are a lot more people that got roles, but they are plastered all over the Internet for you to find. In fact, the entire list is at the bottom of this page. But I couldn’t not mention (gloat even) about the fact that Kate Ellis has been handed a role. Any of my friends will know my thoughts on Kate, and would know that, repeatedly, I have said I’d put her on the front bench. Often people didn’t take me seriously. Probably because it was a whacko thought. Rudd found her a place in the outer ministry, giving her the role of minister for youth and sport. I suppose the role of youth gets plonked on your desk when you’re the youngest Labor minister in history.

I should probably put a note here. When I say that some roles weren’t a surprise to me, I say that in regards to the person actually getting a portfolio. I wouldn’t have been able to predict the actual ministerial roles these people would get. That would be stupid – like trying to say you know the Coalition would retain by four seats.



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