CHAOS IN CANBERRA:
By guest federal politics reporter Renee Viellaris
A tactical manoeuvre planned by Nationals leader Michael McCormack this morning to return Bridget McKenzie to her deputy leadership position threatens the Coalition agreement and the very existence of Scot’s solid, hard-working and effective government.
I’m told that McCormack has shored up his numbers ahead of this morning’s leadership clash with Barnaby Joyce by telling former Agriculture Minister McKenzie that her two days on the outer has been punishment enough for the minor indiscretion of forgetting a $300 club membership.
McCormack (file picture below) apologised profusely for not backing his former deputy “to the hilt”, considering a thorough and professional probe into the so-called sports rorts affair showed she had done nothing wrong in the way she had allocated sports funds using her ministerial discretion as she was clearly entitled to do.
My spies tell me the tactic of a McCormack-McKenzie ticket has taken the wind out of Joyce’s sails and even with the support of Matt Canavan who resigned overnight the member for New England will be lucky to garner as many votes in the party room as the fingers on a chaffcutter’s hand.
I have no idea who cooked up the strategy to derail Joyce’s bid. It was a clever tactic clearly from outside the party room of 21 Nationals pollies this morning, which by my reckoning gives the room a combined IQ of just under 600.
It certainly would not have been McCormack who is a dullard and a fool, and was largely responsible for the flak Scott copped over his deserved Hawaiian holiday that he had promised to his wife Jen and his two beautiful daughters after a trying and exhausting year.
I think in hindsight it [the Hawaiian trip] looks like it was the wrong thing for Scott to do.
But I think the other issue too is because we have such an anaemic deputy Prime Minister who didn’t really step up, it exacerbated the problem, that it looked like no-one showed leadership or was running the country and I, I think that’s a lesson learnt by Scott that he can’t reply on his deputy Prime Minister.
If the Nationals meeting reinstates McKenzie, it will mean her automatic return to Cabinet under the coalition agreement, which will put the ball right back into Scott’s court, but I suspect he will deal with it well given his clever rebranding since his Hawaii and bushfires hiccups and the reemergence of his much-vaunted marketing and oratory skills in his handling of the corona virus matter.
I think one thing’s really interesting here is how Scott’s tone has changed from the bushfires so his tone yesterday was much calmer; it was better than it was in the bushfires.
Scott is a practical Prime Minister. He will react to this Nationals manoeuvre with a renewed focus on adaptation, mitigation plus a better sales pitch.
Scott will sort this out for the last thing Australia needs is instability in government ranks that could lead to Labor and Anthony Albanese slithering their way back into power.
No-one would want that to happen just when Scott and his government are finally starting to get Labor’s debt and deficit disaster in order and showing the good strong economic stewardship that only Scott and the Liberals are capable of.
Memo Bug subs: I’m having a late breakfast in a cafe near the LNP’s HQ in Brisbane. Give me a bell on my mobs if you need any more copy.