Team Howard

The past two days have given a good indication of the shape of politics for the fourth term of the Howard reign (or the first part of it, till Cossie gets impatient and reaches for the cutlery drawer). The Coalition have announced their post-election line up, with a few interesting absenses. On the Labor side, it'll take the best blood-stain remover that Chopper Read can provide before the shadow Cabinet room would pass an OH&S inspection.

For now, a few snippets on the Liberals, with Labor to follow once the dust has settled:

- It's farewell to Danna Vale from the ministry, who is expelled from the Ministry, and will be no great loss. A mumbling, stumbling faux pas on legs.

- And a much less voluntary farewell from Larry Anthony (the former member for Richmond), Ross Cameron (former MP for Parramatta, and ex-Parly Sec for somethingarather) and Trish Worth (Adelaide, and another ex-Parly Sec).

- Chris Pearce has continued his brisk climb up the political ladder, being appointed Parlimantary Secretary to the Treasurer. It's remarkable to think that in June of 2001 he was minding his own business with no clear path to politics, and had the good fortune of his having his local member dying unexpectadly (sorry Peter Nugent, probably a little callous). A byelection and two Federal elections later, and the Member for Aston is shaping up for a Ministerial spot. Bruce Billson, Sharman Stone, Greg Hunt, Richard (who?) Colbeck, Sussan Ley have also progressed one rung up the ladder of opportunity.

- Tony Abbott has defied speculation and kept the Health portfolio. Perhaps the Liberals are expecting some more argy-bargy in the portfolio. Still a little strange... Brendon Nelson, is there a doctor in the house?

Would you trust this man with your health?


- The talented and underappreciated Gary Hardgrave has been given the new portfolio of Vocational and Technical Education, meaning that he can do more than simply be an apologist for Howard's rejection of multiculturalism in his former position as Minister for Wogs, Take Away Chinese and Citizenship.

- Peter Dutton, the ex-cop who knocked off Cheryl (a bit like Gareth) and then turned Dickson from marginal to safe, has been rewarded with a ministerial spot - Minister for Workforce Participation.

The focus seems to be on keeping things steady at the Ministerial level, but breeding a new generation of young and dynamic MPs for roles as Parliamentary Secretaries. It's a wise move, although for some the pace of change is a little slow. It's hard not to wonder where Petro Georgiou's name is. There's no secret that Petro is not one of Howard's favourite, but to exclude someone who is clearly talented and intelligent from even the most minor of Government positions. Three cheers for Alan Cadman, who has been in Parliament for 30 years, just re-elected for another three, and never been a Minister.

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