Election 2013 Notebook: February

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2 February 2013

Canberra is burning? Rats are leaving sinking rubber dinghy?

The weekend announcement of the resignations and exit from politics of Senate Leader Chris Evans (ALP: WA), also Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs, Science and Research, and Attorney General Nicola Roxon (ALP: Gellibrand, VIC) is a traditional garbage day exercise – announcements designed to be buried in the trash of weekend distractions.

It seems, though, that these announcements are a little too big to bury under kitchen scraps and hangovers. It is an indication that Gillard’s ramshackle Labor minority is sickly and waning. Particularly if it is true the new Senate Leader will be the odiously ill-mannered, low-wattage bully, Steven Conroy.

Hopefully the reshuffle expected for tomorrow will not dissuade the Opposition and others from sinking more of Roxon’s Orwellian Anti-Discrimination Bill. Her departure is no loss to anyone, except her factional ally, Julia Gillard.

Is it remotely possible that the timing of dual resignations was designed to lessen an opportunity to ridicule Labor women as prone to leaving serious business as soon as maternal duties call? It’s not that this would be an unreasonable call for any parent to make, but the level of sophisticated debate in our House of representatives makes such an attack likely, whether there is a misogynism counter-attack or not.

The ensuing reshuffle appears to have forced Gillard to match two left faction losses in cabinet with Labor Unity’s Mark Dreyfus (ALP: Isaacs, VIC), her new Attorney General, and the NSW Right’s rising talent Jason Clare (ALP: Blaxland, NSW), who holds Paul Keating’s symbolically-laden former seat, and is now Cabinet Secretary as well as Home Affairs and Justice Minister.

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