Women’s Agenda sister publication Crikey has crunched the numbers to see what a Kevin Rudd caretaker cabinet would look like should a leadership change occur next week. It may not be good news for women.
Assuming Kevin Rudd forces are right and the ALP leadership question comes to a head before the end of the 43rd parliament, the incoming prime minister would need to presumably swear in a new cabinet before an imminent election.
The best parallel would be the Malcolm Fraser caretaker cabinet sworn in on November 11, 1975, comprising 15 members. Or Rudd could “do a Whitlam” and appoint himself and a modern-day Lance Barnard (probably Bill Shorten) to all the ministries. Or he could reprise his famous four-member “kitchen cabinet” in a formal capacity for the 11 weeks before polling today.
A clean-out of the Prime Minister’s Office would also occur, with Rudd media adviser Patrick Gorman presumably taking Ben Hubbard’s gig as chief-of-staff and communications tsar John McTernan making a beeline to Glasgow via Heathrow.
So what would a Rudd caretaker cabinet look like? One strategy would be for the incoming PM to offer all ministers their current gigs until the election and then, after the poll, let caucus decide the new ministry following a party room motion presumably moved by Steve Gibbons’ successor Lisa Chesters (if she wins).
Crikey crunched the names, ruling out Gillard supporters who’ve banned Rudd, including Peter Garrett and dumped ex-ministers like Chris Bowen, who would likely eagerly reclaim their rightful spot on the frontbench. Teetering Gillard supporters like Shorten, Tony Burke and Mark Dreyfus would presumably be saved (Shorten as deputy PM?) as would the “too senior to be sacked” Stephen Conroy and probably Tanya Plilbersek. But Craig Emerson would definitely have to go from Trade, as would Brendan O’Connor from Immigration. An 11th-hour attorney-general resurrection for Robert McClelland and a return to the Resources portfolio for the retiring Martin Ferguson would be funny but highly unlikely (and his replacement Gary Gray hasn’t specifically ruled out serving under Rudd).
Sadly for the incoming PM there’s only three Women for Rudd — the front bench would be a sausage-fest of epic proportions. Here’s Crikey’s best guess at a Rudd cabinet …
Kevin Rudd: Prime Minister
Bill Shorten: Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Simon Crean: Minister for Education
Chris Bowen: Treasurer
Senator Penny Wong: Minister for Immigration
Senator Stephen Conroy: Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Melissa Parke: Minister for Finance
Anthony Albanese: Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
Mark Dreyfus: Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Management
Bob Carr: Minister for Foreign Affairs
Tony Burke: Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Senator Joe Ludwig: Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Gary Gray: Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism
Anthony Byrne: Minister for Trade and Competitiveness
Greg Combet: Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
Tanya Plibersek: Minister for Health
Catherine King: Minister for the Arts, Regional Development and Local Government
Mark Butler: Minister for Mental Health and Ageing