Friday, December 18, 2020

Today by Nick Feik

Shuffling the deckchairs
In time for summer, Morrison announces his new cabinet

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing a cabinet reshuffle today.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces a cabinet reshuffle today. Image © Lukas Coch / AAP Image

In time for our final newsletter of the year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison this afternoon announced his cabinet reshuffle. Most ministerial posts haven’t changed hands, though there are some significant ones. The major moves are these: for good reason, Richard Colbeck has been demoted to aged-care services (while aged care proper has been brought into cabinet under Greg Hunt). Dan Tehan is the new trade minister and Alan Tudge takes the education and youth portfolio, with Simon Birmingham as minister for finance. Interestingly, the “young Liberal powerbrokers” touted by Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian this week – her “Aussie Squad” of Tim Wilson, Andrew Bragg, James Paterson and Jason Falinski – all missed out. It’s fair to say that Morrison’s government isn’t blessed with talent, so this should be read as a slap in their collective faces.

Alex Hawke has been promoted to minister for immigration. Paul Fletcher will take on cities and urban infrastructure, on top of communications and arts. Jane Hume becomes minister for superannuation, financial services and the digital economy. Zed Seselja will be minister for international development and the Pacific. And Amanda Stoker, Luke Howarth, Jonathon Duniam and Andrew Hastie have been given assistant ministerial appointments.

Morrison and the other senior members of the government will be happy to have survived the year, and must be glad to see the end of it.

The potential spread of Sydney’s northern beaches COVID cluster will be a cause for renewed concern, to be added to the other major challenges facing the government (the economy, China, climate-change policy and IR proposals, and more), so we hope Morrison and co get a good rest. They’ll need it.

Finally, we are sad to announce that Paddy Manning, your guide to Australian politics for the past three years, is stepping down from his role as contributing editor for The Monthly Today. We will recruit his successor soon and be back with you early in the new year.

It has been a great pleasure (not to mention an education, in the best way) to work with Paddy over this period. He is departing to work on his PhD about News Corp and his book about Lachlan Murdoch, and will continue to make freelance contributions to The Monthly and The Saturday Paper.

We are grateful to Paddy, and leave the last word in The Monthly Today in 2020 to him:

“Dear readers, it’s been an amazing privilege and a wild ride watching and analysing three years of Australian politics up close at The Monthly, a period which included one prime ministerial knifing, one unlosable election, one global pandemic (and recession), three budgets, 50+ bubble-bursting pub tests and more scandals than you can poke a stick at. Thanks for reading!” 

“It’s all been very weird.”

A “successful” recipient of emergency COVID-19 relief funding for the arts says there has been a dreadful lack of communication from the government. Six months after the program was announced, and nine months into the pandemic, arts organisations have not seen a cent.

“I am pleased but not surprised to be cleared of all branch-stacking allegations.”

Former Liberal Party powerbroker Marcus Bastiaan responds to a forensic audit – which proposed disciplinary action against several of his party allies and the expulsion of 170 members – by claiming complete vindication.

The year that was (plus, Buon Natale from Paul Bongiorno)
Scott Morrison started the year bruised by his response to the bushfire crisis. But the pandemic has seen a big bounce in his approval ratings. With an election predicted for next year, will it be enough to secure another term?


The number of coronavirus cases in Sydney’s northern beaches cluster after 10 new cases were confirmed this morning

“New border measures have been introduced as Sydney’s northern beaches COVID cluster continues to grow. Here’s what we know about the current rules.”

States and territories have swiftly introduced a range of border closures and restrictions for NSW travellers.

The list

“Shot in black and white, Mank has been hailed as a meticulous re-creation of classic Hollywood aesthetics. However, this is not the case. For one thing, Fincher’s decision to shoot in widescreen makes no historical sense. The format wasn’t introduced until 1953 – the same year, ironically, that Mankiewicz died. Films of the period depicted were uniformly shot in the boxier 1.37:1 ratio. And yet Fincher, ever pernickety about small details, even introduces the small circles in the upper-right corners of frames (remember them?) that signify reel-changes. Of which, of course, there are none.”

“Nick Kyrgios’s favourite sport, to play and to watch, is basketball. This preference feels a bit illicit, like an open love affair. He often looks like a basketballer, moving on court with the languid shuffle of an NBA player approaching the free-throw line. After a big serve or forehand, he will find himself caught out by a quick return, because he has emphasised his follow-through to create an aesthetic piece of hang time. After freakish shots he is known to raise his arms, as though looking for a teammate’s chest bump.”

“The evening light is fading on the Hawkesbury and my husband and I are starting to panic. We’re under strict instruction to moor our rented houseboat before the sun sets and things are not going well. Keith’s job is to point the boat at a buoy and motor slowly alongside while I stand at the prow with a giant stick, ready to hook the buoy-rope, pull it aboard and tie up. I make contact, thread my hook through the mossy loop and draw the heavy rope into the air. Victory! No! Failure!”

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of The Monthly.



The Monthly Today

Image of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans standing in front of a Qantas plane. Image via Facebook

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The PM is looking to the finish line, in more ways than one

Image of former industry minister Christian Porter in the House of Representatives, August 24, 2021. Image © Mick Tsikas / AAP Image

Protecting Porter

Why does the government keep doing this?

Composite image of Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud and former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian. Images via Twitter / ABC News

Money spinners

From the Nationals’ mercenary tactics to Gladys Berejiklian’s “sweetheart deal”, sometimes you gotta say WTF

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Images via ABC News

Morrison’s mandate

Barnaby Joyce acknowledges that a net-zero target is cabinet’s call. But what exactly is their mandate?

From the front page

Image of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans standing in front of a Qantas plane. Image via Facebook

How you finish the race

The PM is looking to the finish line, in more ways than one

Image of Supermoon over Footscray. Image © Tim McCartney 2015

Lunar orbit

The strange paths taken by the mind when overwhelmed by fear

Cover image for Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ‘The Morning Star’

Hell’s kitchen: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ‘The Morning Star’

The ‘My Struggle’ author’s first novel in 17 years considers the mundanity of everyday acts amid apocalyptic events

Image of ‘Bewilderment’

‘Bewilderment’ by Richard Powers

The Pulitzer winner’s open-hearted reworking of Flowers for Algernon, updated for modern times