What are our Ministers up to?

After six years in opposition some of our Ministers have had plenty of time to hone their portfolios, or so you would think. Some of them – those who have been in the public eye – have made an absolute meal of their jobs, aka Hunt, Pyne, Turnbull and Morrison. But what of those not in the public eye? What have they been up to?

I headed over to the Liberal web site to find out. Surely they’ve been working hard. If they have, the Liberal web site, their media releases or their own personal web page would be filled with examples of their tenacious work ethics and hopefully, portfolio related. I honed in on a handful who we haven’t heard much of.

Kevin Andrews: Minister for Social Services

Mr Andrews hasn’t been very busy. Apart from a media release that the Government would deliver a genuine PPL scheme he went out of his way to invite Manningham and Maroondah residents to propose ideas for the local celebration of the Centenary of ANZAC. From his web site we also learn that he has given two interviews and given two talks. What a bulldog.

Bruce Billson: Minister for Small Business

Mr Billson hasn’t been very busy either. On the eve of the election he popped up to promise that an elected Coalition Government would contribute $20,000 to the Frankston City Council to fund the renewal of the roof on the Seaford Community Centre to keep the Junior Library dry and operating. Wow.

Since the election he has paid tribute to the founding fathers of Vegemite for their entrepreneurial spirit; has been encouraged that his vision of a new commemorative site for our service men and women has progressed with Frankston Council endorsement of the proposed Beauty Park/Baxter Street site; has welcomed the report from the Productivity Commission on its study on Regulator Engagement with Small Business; and helped launch the expansion of a state of the art polyurethane manufacturing and technical centre at Carrum Downs. The latter was accompanied by the obligatory comment from one Owen Stam, General Manager of Pacific Urethanes (the company involved with the expansion) who boasted:

“. . . it hadn’t been all smooth sailing for the small business in the current manufacturing environment, but thankfully it had (temporarily) avoided a carbon tax king-hit by a sheer technicality.

When the carbon tax was introduced our costs looked like ballooning.

The planned removal of the carbon tax by the new Federal government enables us to plan for the future with confidence.”

No wonder Bruce was there. With all that excitement about the carbon tax it would have been too hard to keep him away. He has since gone back to sleep. No doubt he’ll be up and about to open something exciting such as a rubber-band factory any week now.

Peter Dutton: Minister for Health and Minister for Sport

Mr Dutton has been flat out. Since the election he announced careers expo, announced that the Coalition’s education programs would help some Queensland schools and has encouraged local residents (presumably in his electorate) to enter the ballot for places at the 2015 Gallipoli Anzac Centenary Commemorations.

What were his portfolios again?

David Johnston: Minister for Defence

According to his web site he hasn’t opened his mouth since a week before the election.

Michael Keenan: Minister for Justice

Mr Keenan’s web site draws a blank. If I want to learn what he has been up to I first have to subscribe by email. Where’s the justice in that?

Oh, he does provide a few links to nasty stuff that Labor had done, however, the last one is dated July 30.

Nigel Scullion: Minister for Indigenous Affairs

At least Mr Scullion has been busy, engaging in more or less two things: talking and taking.Talking about all the good things he is going to do, such as this:

My goal will be to achieve a demonstrable improvement in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next three years.

And taking, such as this:

The Abbott government has taken funding from a key indigenous education advisory group, citing the “tight fiscal environment” and the need to cut red tape.

The letter from Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said that while he appreciated the expertise of members of the group, the fiscal environment meant the government had to consider any expenditure “very carefully”.

They haven’t really been doing much, have they? And I’m sure that if I picked another handful to investigate I’m sure I’d find similar results: Zilch. They’re sitting around on their bums all day with nothing to do. No wonder Public Servants are doing the same. As I commented here:

I’ve run into dozens of former work colleagues who are still in the public service. I bump into them in cafés and coffee shops. They have nothing to do. They don’t know what they’re meant to do, either. They have no direction nor leadership. Quite simply, they don’t know what’s going on and it’s been like that in their departments for three months.

But how can they have something to do while their Ministers aren’t doing anything either?


37 comments on “What are our Ministers up to?

  1. ‘Tis the season of frenzied nonchalance Michael. Most of ’em are too frightened to do or say anything in case of incurring Peta’s wrath. As for Andrews, a genuine 19th century God-botherer who’s full of parsimonious piety, he’ll be down in the back shed and sharpening the axe in anticipation of Hockey’s budget cuts to welfare and social services. So don’t worry, it won’t be long before Kev becomes far more active doing God’s work and aiding the poor and unemployed to find their place in the gutter.

  2. You would think the top end of town could produce something outstanding and terrific to reflect their opinion of themselves. If we judge the tree by the fruit it bears the tree should be removed and something else planted in it’s place. Just under 3 years to go, but it will seem like 30. Hopefully we will still have the freedom to vote at that time.

  3. Your details have been taken. If you think you will be able to show disrespect like that, to our glorious Leader and his glorious party, you will be appropriately dealt with. The only free speech here will be courtesy of my mate, “Hope he likes me” Rupert. You don’t know when you are well off, you people. Gina is far too generous with her offer. $2 a day!! Outrageous. Our new 457 programme of getting workers into the place with the right attitude, will drop that to something more affordable, just you watch

  4. One you left out was the Minister For Pissing Off Neighboring Countries. There must be one even though there’s no official mention, a program as all encompassing as this would have to have sanction & input from high up. And credit where it’s due s/he’s been a busy little bee eh? Not stopping for a weekend break either, but getting into the graft of further annoying Timor Leste & Indonesia all over again today. PNG’s probably next on the list or perhaps Scoot’s got responsibility for that one.
    Must agree though, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of talent or energy otherwise. Joe Hockey often reminds me of someone getting ready to blow up a balloon…

  5. I think all ministers should be overseas in recess , experiencing Foreign Climes
    just as coached by their predecessors.
    All these dim dims must learn something overseas.
    Maybe they can try to re-enter Australia via the Boat people Root
    Oops I meant ‘Route’
    But let them try entering Indonesia or any other country with No Passport
    or. ID.. Just as the previous way, see how they enjoy Manus Is.
    ( now how dumb are Amnesty Inc. UN). They found it hot.
    It takes a UN Expert to tell you it will be hot , well the a equator runs thru
    The Island you dopes.

  6. Even the duty wingnut doesn’t attempt to defend this lazy useless Murdoch-Credlin-Rinehart government. Their silence on the matter says it all.

  7. Then by Omnia’s standards most of Abbott’s ministers should also be sacked because they’re certainly sitting around doing little to nothing, which is why their departments are doing little or nothing.

    But as he nearly always has, Omnia has missed the point, that being this is another failure of the Abbott the government and its ministers in charge of the public servants, not of the public service.

    What Abbott will do is outsource much of the public service work to contractors, like Howard did, so the tax payer will pay a lot more for less work of a lower standard, just as is happening in Queensland under Newman.

    But contractors can be held to secrecy and payola and can be hired on ideological makeup and cronyism rather than merit.

    But it doesn’t matter which way it’s spun in the end it’s the tax payer who gets screwed by this mob just as they did with Howard and are getting screwed by Newman.

  8. Kevin Andrews is, most likely, very busy at his other, more important, job as a member of the Credlin Star Chamber which is composed totally of Victorian Liberals only two of whom are MPs..

  9. According to Abbott there is a deficit now of just under 50 billion dollars, and he puts the blame squarely on the Labor Party, through there mismanagement of the budget, will the ALP start to retaliate against this accusation and many others, which includes all the promises Abbott has blatantly broken, it got me bloody beat has to why Shorten & Bowen are being so tight lipped about it all.

  10. @ Omnia quaerite @ December 16, 2013 @ 7:45 am
    Well I am sure you won’t mind if we dangle a bribe at your employer to sack you, just for the sake that we don’t like you and think you’re a dreadful waste of oxygen?
    Surely you couldn’t complain about the same lack of empathy and respect dished out to you, when you have so little for others?
    You really are a deplorable character OQ.

  11. Easy answer to the post. Bullshitting, of the highest order. If anything, the economy has not deteriorated over the last three months. If anything, it is a little better. Well, that is what the experts are saying, but what would they know.

    .OK, Joe, we’ve got the message. The budget is in deficit and big spending cuts are going to be necessary, starting in May.

    (There are some quibbles to be had, of course, with the logic behind your “this deficit ain’t nothing to do with me – I’m the clean-up guy” softening up exercise. Yes, you inherited a budget $30bn in the red, but we all know the blowout in the deficit since August has been caused both by your own decisions and by your inability to get savings measures through the Senate. And to the extent that there is a crisis, it is more about the fact that the budget is in long-term structural deficit because governments – Labor and Liberal – promised recurrent spending and reduced taxation on the apparent assumption that the revenue from the mining boom would last forever.)

    But we take your main point – the budget doesn’t just need a trim, it needs some big structural changes to make long-term savings so we can live within our means.

    That leaves us with some important questions.

    The first is political. Your prime minister, Tony Abbott, has promised us a “no surprises” government. He ran a small target election campaign. He insisted Labor’s assertion that he would “cut to the bone” was a nasty scare campaign. If you make deep cuts now a whole lot of Australians could be very surprised indeed. Can he live with th.


    What we have, is MYEFO using new methodology in compiling it. Is not comparing apples with apples.

  12. All this gloom and doom, plus people losing there jobs all around us, lead to a collapse in confidence in the economy.

  13. ……Abolishing the carbon price will result in a $7.4bn deterioration in the budget position over the next four years, with the federal government setting aside more than $2bn to buy back “free permits” allocated to Australia’s heavy emitters in 2013-14.

    The Coalition has positioned its long-running political campaign against carbon pricing squarely in a cost-of-living frame – arguing the “carbon tax” regime drives up consumer prices. But the mid-year economic forecasts released on Tuesday confirm that abolishing Labor’s clean energy package will have only a tiny impact on inflation.

    Treasury estimates carbon price repeal will reduce headline and underlying inflation by less than one quarter of a percentage point in 2014-15.

    The forecasts indicate that repeal is “expected to support household consumption growth in the short term and make a small contribution to national income growth over the longer term”……


  14. It seems that speed no longer matters, especially that of up load.

    ……..Guarantees about minimum internet speeds to be delivered under Australia’s national broadband network have “lost currency”, the head of NBN Co told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

    The NBN Co executive chairman, Ziggy Switkowski, said he would work to bring down the projected cost of delivering the Abbott government’s version of the NBN. Peak funding for the Coalition plan has been estimated at $41bn, up from the $29.5bn cost the pre-election policy document suggested.

    The Labor frontbencher Stephen Conroy, who was communications minister for most of the Rudd-Gillard government, pursued NBN Co bosses over the pre-election pledge from Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull to provide broadband with a download data rate of at least 25 megabits per second by 2016..


  15. What is the head minister about. Suspect he does not kow himself.

    …..Did Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s confusion over economics and the strength of the Australian dollar lead him to mislead parliament last week, and suggest the Reserve Bank had done a deal with the government to lower the value of the dollar?

    The RBA’s continuing efforts to jawbone the dollar down appear to be bearing fruit after Governor Glenn Stevens’ latest effort on Friday when he expressed a wish in a newspaper interview for a dollar around 85 US cents. But less than 24 hours earlier, Abbott said something that appeared to suggest there was a trade-off between the Reserve Bank’s efforts to lower the currency and the still surprising decision by the government to inject $8.8 billion into the central bank to boost its main reserve:

    I am pleased to say that what goes up can come down, and the floating dollar is now down to about 90 US cents, a level which makes it much easier for our manufacturers and for our exporters. I support the floating dollar just as, it seems, the member for Kennedy supported the floating dollar, at least when it was low in the mid-1990s. Just as well that the Reserve Bank has been, in effect, recapitalised to the tune of $8 billion because that enables the Reserve Bank to intervene prudently and appropriately in the market to try to ensure that the Australian dollar is at the best possible level.

    Putting aside that Abbott famously attacked the floating of the dollar in 1994, his remarks appear to indicate that Treasurer Joe Hockey’s wholly unnecessary near-$9 billion handout to the Reserve Bank to strengthen the its capital reserves (and pay back bigger dividends in coming years) was actually to help it reduce the dollar’s value.

    On Friday, Abbott followed up those comments with slightly different ones, saying that the market should determine the value of the dollar but “that doesn’t mean the Reserve Bank shouldn’t from time to time prudently involve itself in the market to encourage what it thinks is the right market developments”. So, strictly speaking, Abbott doesn’t believe the market should always set the value of the dollar – he thinks the RBA should sometimes step in to “encourage the right market development……


    I am sure he did study some economics at university, along with law. I must have been wrong.

  16. ……..Prime Minister Tony Abbott is easing rules regarding federal ministers’ business interests, reversing previous code of conduct terms that prevented them from holding company shares.

    Under the previous Labor government, the code for ministerial standards required ministers to ‘divest themselves of investments and other interests in any public or private company or business’.

    However, under a new code released by Mr Abbott this month, the onus appears to shift to the politician to determine any conflict of interest.

    ‘In recognition of the responsibilities that ministers bear, these standards require that ministers make arrangements to avoid conflicts of interests arising from their investments,’ the new code reads.

    ‘Where the minister is a shareholder in a private company and the assets of the private company are beneficially owned (in whole or in part) by the minister, then the shareholding will not be considered to constitute a conflict of interest where, were the assets to be owned directly by the minister, the fact would not constitute a conflict of interest.’

    The new code also sets out that if such a company begins operating in areas affected by the minister’s decisions, then it is the minister’s responsibility to declare their conflict of interest and resolve the matter to the prime minister’s satisfac……..


  17. Yes, this government no longer feels the need to make guarantees.

    .For those reasons, he said “the document should not be released for reasons of public interest immunity”.

    Dr Switkowski also refused to guarantee any broadband speeds to be delivered by the network. The Coalition had promised a rollout with minimum speeds of 25 megabits per second by 2016, and 50 megabits per second three years later in 2019.

    “I do not buy questions that demand us to guarantee anything,” Dr Switkowski said. “It’s clear that after four years of NBN, guarantees have lost currency.”

    More to come

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/hearing-nbn-co-gagged-on-finer-details-of-strategic-review-20131217-2zi64.html#ixzz2nhlxUNJZ


  18. Why this One that Howard would have backed, as he believed that most should have trades, not go to university.

    Then Gillard dropped his new trade schools to go down this path.

    .Trade training centres scrapped, $528 million Communities Fund dumped

    Detailed cuts are expected in the May budget but MYEFO has revealed that trade training centres, mostly based in high schools and brought in by Labor, have been scrapped to contribute $1 billion for the Gonski school funding agreements.

    The Government decided not to scrap the agreements last month, after protests from states and territories.

    The schools funding gap will also be covered by dumping the $528 million Building Stronger Communities Fund – slated to pay for small programs and services..


    This meets the needs of kids that are not academic, but benefit from staying on to year 12

  19. Must be more red, green or black tape.

    Coalition cuts animal welfare spending

    The coalition has cut $5 million worth of former Labor government programs set up to monitor the welfare of live exported animals.

    The Australian Animal Welfare Strategy and the proposed animal welfare inspector general were scrapped in the government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) released on Tuesday.

    Advocacy group Animals Australia, which has been one of the loudest supporters of tougher checks on the industry, was also stripped of $100,000.

    However, the government earmarked $60 million over 10 years to create a red meat and cattle partnership with Indonesia to boost trade and investment.

    The animal welfare measures were put in place after media reports of cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs and alleged breaches of export regulations in the Middle Eas


  20. Fed up and,

    Trade training centres scrapped..

    I wonder what happened to the skills shortage? Or is the plan to import $2.00 a day Korean electricians because gosh, there are no electricians/plumbers in Australia any more.

  21. Well, it seems the trade centres are not needed in our high schools, along with before and after school care.

  22. Carol, if you do away with the jobs, no skills are needed.

    We now have Costello taking over the future fund. Not surprised that David Gonski is sent on his way.

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