Tony Abbott’s reshuffle: one barnacle too far

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has “scraped some barnacles” and reshuffled his cabinet. getting rid of the Defence Minister and doubling the number of women (to two). Other than that. it’s mainly shuffling. Putting Scott Morrison in charge of social services means that the mantra of the 2015 will be “Stop the Payments.”

Morrison wants to get people off welfare and into jobs. This is a commendable goal. Unfortunately, his plan will be to cut social security payments rather than to increase job opportunities.

Expect lots of exhortations to “Get a job”.  When this doesn’t work, Morrison will probably try Plan B, which will be “Get a haircut and get a job.”

Shifting people into different cabinet posts is not the best way to fix the problems confronting the government.   There are fundamental ideologically, political and structural problems that this government is unable to deal with.

The first political test for the Abbott government will be getting the 2015 budget through the Senate. Not getting  key elements of the 2014 budget through  was probably the government’s biggest failure. Simply changing the Treasurer isn’t going to work. There needs to be a fundamental rethink on the economics and the equity of this central piece of legislation.

George Sinodinos has resigned. Presumably he’s got some inkling of what the ICAC inquiry will say about him and it’s not good. It’s a pity, he was one of the more talented members of the a lacklustre group. And would probably have made a very good Treasurer.

But Abbott hasn’t really solved the “barnacle problem”. The biggest barnacle is still firmly attached to, and in charge of, the ship.  The Liberal party has  trailed the opposition in all opinion polls since the last election. Abbott is the most unpopular Prime Minister in history. He’s a barnacle someone will have to scrape off if the Liberals are to have any chance of winning the next election.

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