The resignations of ministers Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans were interpreted by many as a sign that the government is in chaos. It certainly topped off the most eventful week in recent memory for the ALP – and ensured that the certainty and stability that Gillard had spoken of when announcing the election date would be in short supply.
But reports in the media today suggest that Gillard had known for several months that the resignations were coming and a reshuffle would be required. The announcements were held off until the new year, it is said, in order to avoid any potential leadership instability over the summer (the traditional 'killing season').
Whether it was as planned as this is unknowable at this stage, and we can (and will) debate the strategic effect of the timing, and the impression it created.
One thing it did achieve: it got Craig Thomson off the front page.
Nick Feik Politicoz Editor
Sign up to get Politicoz delivered to your email address every weekday at lunch time.
Gillard Feared Leadership Unrest
“The Prime Minister has been criticised for exacerbating Labor’s woes by announcing the resignations of key cabinet ministers on Saturday after a rough week for her government that included the arrest of former Labor MP Craig Thomson. But sources intimate with Ms Gillard’s reasoning say that she judged it too risky to do it last year because caucus would have had to hold a ballot for a new Senate leader.”
“Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks has emerged as a possible star candidate to replace Nicola Roxon in her safe seat of Gellibrand. Multiple senior sources said the seat, which overlaps Mr Bracks' former state seat of Williamstown, was his if he wanted it. The popular ex-premier lives in the seat and is being touted as a natural fit.”
Marshall Becomes Leader, Chapman Made Deputy
“First-term MP Steven Marshall has been elected unopposed as the new South Australian Liberal leader at a party room meeting at Parliament House this morning. Member for Bragg Vickie Chapman saw off a late challenge from Iain Evans to become deputy leader, winning the vote by 10 votes to 8.”
Would Roxon And Evans Have Resigned If Labor Had Greater Purpose?
“The hopes of Kevin 07 were largely those of a competent, social-democratic government which would change the conversations of John Howard’s Australia, and invoke pride in a nation of good global citizens. The Labor party’s structure since the 1980s has not allowed for the promotion of men and women able to run such a government. When a party is struggling to articulate its purpose, it’s no wonder some of its key agents run out of puff early.”