Peter van Onselen has put out a pollie watch list for 2014. So he has 5 on the up and 5 on the down. It is the on the down choices that I'm interested in.
First he nominates Wayne Swan - but Swan has more or less disappeared from public life, if not actually the Parliament, when Julia Gillard lost office. PVO does suggest that Swan might be snapped up by the private sector. Surely not. The only people who could credibly employ him would be some union dominated super fund.
PVO also nominates the shadow ministry.
The collective of ageing shadow ministers who should have retired when the Labor government lost. It is remarkable how many former ministers past their prime stayed on to hog frontbench spots which should have gone to the likes of Nick Champion, Stephen Jones and Ed Husic. Expect a few to fall away next year, as they realise opposition ain't much fun.
This is correct. These are the people to watch because much the same thing happened after 2007. The then Coalition shadow ministry had the same problem. But as it became clearer that opposition was going to be a short term proposition the older members didn't retire and make space but hung on there. If the now shadow ministry starts retiring then that reveals their expectations of returning to government.
So far all good.
George Brandis or Christopher Pyne: Neither probably will fall from grace, but both have had poor starts as ministers. 2014 will either see them find their feet, or the mistakes will pile up and Abbott will need to act. The former is more likely for both men, but they will be closely scrutinised next year.
on Christopher Pyne I agree. While I think dumping Gonski would have been good policy, he completely fluffed the implementation.
What of George Brandis? I can't see him being in the same category as Pyne. I don't perceive him as having had a poor start. So I asked PVO on twitter what the story is. PVO nominates three areas where Brandis is vulnerable. Entitlements, hypocrisy, and not abolishing the Human Rights Commission.
So we're in full agreement on not abolishing the Human Rights Commission.
It is hard to get too excited about the entitlements thing. We covered it here at the Cat at the time and it is disgraceful and politicians should be paid in cash and all that. Okay - but I'm not convinced that Brandis is uniquely vulnerable in this area. Ultimately there is no real political cost in this area. If criminality come be demonstrated then it is a different story - but exploiting vague rules may cause a temporary stink and excite journalists and bloggers but I doubt there is any long-term cost here.
Then PVO and Brandis have been exchanging barbs in The Australian over hypocrisy and the meaning of partisanship. That is pure self-indulgence on PVOs part. Nobody cares. More importantly that isn't the risk Brandis faces in 2014.
The risk Brandis faces in 2014 is that the political left succeeds in discrediting Tim Wilson. I have no doubt they will give it a red-hot go. If they succeed an already overly cautious government will become more cautious. If they fail the Abbott government may acquire more of a backbone.