Cabinet fantasy league: create your own ministry
In the absence of a genuine contest in Canberra, serious political junkies are wondering what sort of team could give the Rudd Government a run for their money.
Today, we give readers a chance to put their own Cabinet in the House, with the launch of the Punch’s Federal Cabinet Fantasy League.
It’s simple. Assemble a Cabinet from Ministers who have taken the oath over the past 40 years, ensure your team comes under the $2 million super cap and get ready to Rumble the Ruddster.
The idea of a Fantasy Cabinet came to me in the wake of last week’s Essential Report showing that PM Rudd was rated a better performer than PM Howard on six of eight key indicators.
While we knew Rudd as opposition leader had beaten Howard, it was the first time punters had been given the opportunity to bring the two PMs head to head.
The results show how well Rudd is traveling with big leads on:
- indigenous affairs (52-13)
- protecting the environment (43-11)
- honesty in government (41-19),
- international relations (40-27)
- and supporting Australian industry (37-26)
And on the two areas where Howard dominated the politic agenda – the economy (37-39) and national security (30-35), our fallen leader only had a slim lead.
It got me thinking. If Rudd is deemed a better PM than Howard, what about previous leaders? Would he out-bluster Gough? Could he seem s torn as Fraser? As lovable as Hawkie? As profane as PJK?
And if we want to line up our leaders, why not the whole Cabinet? Why not skim the wiki of Australian political history and compile the Dream Team to Advance Australia Fair? If Malcolm Turnbull wants to line up with Labor, let him. If we want to get Evans and Downer in the same paddock, we can follow the dream.
So that is what I’ve done – and here it is, without further fanfare, your chance to run the nation:
1. Prime Minister: which of these giants would you choose to rattle Rudd?
Gough Whitlam – more wins and more losses in three years than most leaders achieve in a lifetime.
Malcolm Fraser – Australia’s greatest ever former Prime Minister
Bob Hawke – Any fantasy political player who doesn’t make me their Prime Minister is a bum
Paul Keating – Made music for many of us, but not everyone dug Mahler
John Howard - The grand stayer who didn’t know when to go
2. Deputy PM: ensure there is no destablisation in your ranks with a loyal number two.
Lance Barnard - governed Australia for 100 days with Gough as a two-man Cabinet
Tim Fisher – surprised many as Howard first Deputy with his decency and ability to articulate the interests of the bush
Anyone from the National Party – a fast diminishing gene pool
3. Treasurer – make sure your surplus is bigger than your opponents with these fiscal alpha males.
Jim Cairns – Australia’s last socialist Treasurer (until Swannie came along)
John Howard – even his best supporters would admit this was not his finest calling
Paul Keating – best days in politics spent transforming the economy
Peter Costello – the Liberal’s Paul Keating, without the mongrel
4. Foreign Affairs – your player on the Global stage.
Gough – not technically the minister but recognised China while running the country single-handedly
Andrew Peacock – gave foreign affairs a new meaning
Gareth Gareth Evans – couldabeenaGenSec
Lord Downer – no one ever looked better doing Karaoke in a silly shirt.
5. Health – plug the biggest hole in the budget.
Doug Everingham – introduced MediBank to Australia in one of the key reforms of the Whitlam era
Neale Blewett – saved thousands of lives with his swift response to the AIDS epidemic
Tony Abbott – started federal takeover of health – even if it was only one hospital
6. Finance – bring some much-needed discipline to your ranks.
Phillip Lynch – coined the phrase ‘rubbery figures’ – in relation to his own work
Peter Walsh - the original tightwad
Nick Minchin – flogged Telstra by convincing Mum and Dad investors to buy a lemon.
7. Environment – save the planet without upsetting those pesky Greens
Richo – ‘discovered’ the environment on green preferences
Robert Hill –put an ETS on the table, before it was a fashionable political football
Iain Campbell – quit the Libs after actually turning Green
Malcolm Turnbull – banned light bulbs – still the only actual measure that has reduced our carbon footprint.
8. Education – build a Knowledge Nation without the noodles.
Kim Beazley snr – bought in free tertiary education
John Dawkins – see above. Took it away
Brendan Nelson – put a flagpole in every school – now that’s an education revolution!
Julie Bishop – one of the great modern political lines when she threatened to send Rudd to the ‘naughty room’.
9. Defence – dress up in Khaki and play with some expensive toys
Bomber Beazley – no one ever looked as good in a tank
Robert Rae – no one looked more like a tank
Peter Reith – doctored photos to keep our borders secure.
10. Indigenous Affairs – manage our history while building a future.
Fred Chaney – bedded down the Land Rights Act before the era of wedge politics
Robert Tickner - lost seat after refusing to intervene in a local development
Mal Brough – lost seat after backing the Intervention.
11. Industrial Relations – take on the unions but watch out, they bite.
Laurie Brereton – oversaw first wave of labour market deregulation, sparking the cry ‘ I get all the shit jobs’
Peter Reith – let loose the dogs on chains, but they turned back on ho,
Joe Hockey ‘I fought the Union Bosses and the Union Bosses won’.
12. Attorney General – write the law the way you want it.
Lionel Murphy – drove the Whitlam legal renaissance, became every law students’ favourite High Court judge, before being snookered by his ‘little mate’.
Robert Ellicott – orchestrated Australia’s only ever political coup, advising Barwick on Dismissal
Michal Lavarch –youngest-ever AG at a time when Native Title tipped the law on its head.
Phillip Ruddock – ‘we decide who comes into this Fantasy Cabinet …”
13. Resources – increase the nation’s wealth by digging it up.
Rex Conner – wanted to buy back the farm - from a man in a shiny suit
Doug Anthony – last of the agrarian socialists
Wilson Ironbar Tuckey – called a spade an implement that could render damage
Ian ‘Chainsaw’ MacFarlane – drove Australia’s export strategy under the Howard Government.
And finally, the Wild Card – your Cabinet will not be complete without a colourful figure to snatch the headlines.
Al Grassby – colourful ties – in both senses of the word
John Brown – did his best work at his desk
Ros Kelly – did her best work on a whiteboard
Bronwyn Bishop – can anyone believe that Bronny for PM was actually a movement?
So there it is, simply compile your Cabinet, call a Caucus meeting and get Dreaming ….
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