I finally sat down and had a look at the new Scott Morrison cabinet. Wow! If you imagine a spectrum running from some combination of Thatcherite Trumpism at one end over to Turnbullesque bedwetting Black Handism at the other end, I’m hard pressed not to see this new Team Morrison as massively closer to the latter than the former, alas. Start with the big ticket jobs.
Josh Frydenberg, who threw half a billion dollars at some unheard of Barrier Reef outfit over lunch and who is far too committed to Australia’s virtue-signalling renewables rent-seekers – virtue-signalling because even if Australia went back to the Stone Age tomorrow and produced zero emissions that fact would do basically nothing to affect the world’s temperature, zero, nada, nothing – stays as Treasurer.
Then there’s Marise Payne at Foreign Affairs. This is the woman who was the most politically-correct Minister of Defence in Australia’s history, and yes I include all Labor party holders of that office in that claim. She was a rusted-on Turnbull supporter. She keeps one of the handful of big-ticket cabinet jobs. (All that said, she’s probably an improvement on Julie Bishop. Or at least she is if you put any value at all on loyalty.)
The Deputy Prime Minister, by Coalition agreement and so not really in the gift of Mr Morrison, is the National party leader Michael McCormack. Who? Michael McCormack. Who? You heard me. I know at the election that he kept all the National party seats. But given his party’s rural constituency, and given the policies Bill Shorten took to the election, I’d be surprised if anyone leading the Nationals could have lost those seats. Let’s just say the Mr McCormack is wet, so wet he should carry around a towel, and that he did nothing to help end the tenure of the former Liberal party leader (though for that matter neither did the clearly often otherwise engaged Mr Joyce).
And there is Peter Dutton at Home Affairs. He’s the man that took the action to bring down Turnbull. Backbencher MP Tim Wilson back in the day described that Duttonesque action, the triggering of the leadership spill that eventually would bring down Herr Turnbull, as ‘signing a suicide note’, one that he, Tim Wilson, had declined to sign. Bad call Tim. I’m not sure I’d be looking to you for stock-picking advice or anything that required political nous. Look, any sentient being out there today who still believes that Malcolm could have won this just-past election must have been in a coma between 2015 and election day 2019. Okay, any sentient being (I use the phrase loosely you understand) whose initials aren’t PVO or whose surname doesn’t rhyme with the stuff that pours out of active volcanoes.
So maybe the Tim Wilsons of the Liberal party room, and there are plenty of them, might at least like to make a public admission, or apology, that they were wrong and that the only reason we have a Coalition government today is because of Peter Dutton and his having been the first mover against Malcolm ‘I love the Liberal party, really I do’ Turnbull. Don’t hold your breath though. At any rate, Dutton gets Home Affairs, a sort of bottom of the top tier of cabinet posts.
If we throw in Mr Morrison himself that top tier looks to lean distinctly to the ‘moderate’ (i.e. lefty) wing of the Liberal party. As I said after the election, if Mr Shorten had positioned Labor anywhere approaching the ‘sane’ part of the political spectrum then the conservative vote would not have come home to the Libs and they would not have squeaked home. Labor lost this past election, full stop. Sure, even with those insane policies Labor would have defeated a Turnbull Liberal Coalition. But remove LINO Turnbull and Labor had to move to the right a bit. Not much, but a bit. Instead Shorten moved further left. What a doofus!
At any rate, let’s get back to this new incarnation of the post-election Morrison Cabinet. Down a tier, but still in the big league, are Angus Taylor, Christian Porter, Mathias Cormann and at a stretch Greg Hunt with, respectively, Ministries covering Energy and Emissions, Attorney-General and Industrial Relations, Finance, and lastly Health and some all-purpose ‘assistant to the Prime Minister’ type thingy. Hunt is a wet, though on the sensible side. Porter is nowhere near as conservative and anti-Black Handish as many commentators suggest; he’s more of a weathervane type politico in my view; while Cormann and Taylor are solid conservatives.
At this stage, and without going into the lower levels of the Team Morrison cabinet – down where you find your Ken Wyatts, Sussan Leys, Simon Birminghams, and some names I’d never heard of – you still are looking at a cabinet that at its top end is more wet than dry, more Black Hand and Turnbullesque than Abbottesque and conservative, and in a phrase pretty uninspiring. (For what it’s worth, compare it to Mr Trump’s current cabinet in the US which looks to me to be a better one than even the best one under Ronald Reagan. You won’t hear that very often because the mainstream press is basically deranged when it comes to President Trump but take a look for yourself.)
And then there’s this parochial concern I have as a Queenslander. Who won this past election for Morrison and the Libs? Queensland, that’s who. Take my home state out of the equation and Labor, even with Bill Shorten and his extremely lefty policies, wins and wins pretty handily. In other words it was my home state wot done it for Scott. And what posts do Queenslanders get in this cabinet? Well, as mentioned Dutton gets Home Affairs. Stuart Robert gets something called ‘Government Services’ which on Reaganite grounds I’m sure most of us would like to see mightily trimmed back. Matt Canavan gets Resources. Karen Andrews gets Industry and Innovation. And David Littleproud gets some catchall that includes Rural Finance, Drought and Natural Disasters.
So I count five all up, and not much of the big ticket stuff. It’s a comparatively exiguous haul for the state that delivered victory to the Libs. In Canada, where admittedly this sort of ‘what does our province get for putting you in office’ thinking gets out of hand, any province treated this badly after handing victory to a winning party would be going berserk about now. They sure wouldn’t be inclined to repeat the favour. I don’t counsel that sort of tit-for-tat behaviour. On the other hand, there’s a happy medium; especially when the final product put together by Morrison is so massively uninspiring.
Scott did not find that happy medium.