Government's impromptu Senate reshuffle

Just days after announcing the date for the next Federal Election, Julia Gillard has been forced to make some major changes to her party’s frontbench.

Nicola Roxon stood down from the ministry on Saturday to spend more time with her family and was soon joined by Senate leader Chris Evans. Mark Dreyfus has been appointed as Attorney General and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has stepped up from Senate deputy leader to leader. Penny Wong completes the changes by taking over Senator Conroy’s position as deputy.

With the polls indicating a Liberal whitewash come September, ALP national secretary George Wright has urged the party to believe in themselves and not to look at the polls and say, “it’s all too hard”.

Manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne provoked the ire of the Government by saying, “This government is starting to resemble a scene from Downfall and the Prime Minister is presiding over a divided and dysfunctional government.” The response from Mark Dreyfus, who is Jewish, was delivered at a news conference, “There is no place in Australian political debate for a comparison of any Australian government with Hitler’s Third Reich”.

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Opinion: Politicians in glasshouses…

Less than a week since Julia Gillard announced the date of the next Federal Election as 14 September 2013, and already politicians are falling over themselves to deliver scathing and damaging political barbs.

Christopher Pyne surpassed himself with his comment that the Government resembled the final days of Hitler’s reign. To which Mark Dreyfus used his Jewish religion to respond in disgust to the linking of politics with Hitler’s Third Reich. This response was interesting given that he himself had accused Tony Abbott of “Goebbellian cynicism”.

Bill Shorten hit out at the Coalition by saying it could not get ‘shellbacks’ such as Bronwyn Bishop and Kevin Andrews to retire from the frontbench. To which Mr Pyne responded, “We don’t have a great need to reshuffle our frontbench because we’re very happy with the job they’re doing.”

Labor even faced a minor slap-down from one of its own with Human Services Minister Kim Carr, known to be a Kevin Rudd backer, refusing to stand as Senate deputy leader saying, “In the current political environment this would not be about the needs of the Senate”.

And so we ready ourselves for eight months of playground-like taunts, indignant responses, in-party fighting and new polls every week stating the obvious.

One can only hope that at some point during the process we are actually told of each party’s detailed and costed policies so we can make some kind of informed choice come 14 September.

Is any topic fair game during election campaigning? Or should politicians stick to commenting and debating on policies only?

Written by Debbie McTaggart