John Faulkner should be the next defence minister
UPDATE 2pm: Kevin Rudd just announced Faulkner’s got the gig.
Who would be defence minister? The poisoned chalice effectively killed off the political careers of the last four people who held it. Peter Reith, Robert Hill, Brendan Nelson and now Joel Fitzgibbon were all so battered after scrapping the military top brass they ran out of the ammunition needed to take things to the next level.
The last person to hold the position without it completely wrecking his public image was Kim Beazley, who was so defined by his ability in the difficult portfolio he’ll be forever known as “Bomber.”
Talk of putting former union chief Greg Combet in the job is madness. Union heavies are one thing - war, both militarily and with your own department, is another. Bring on the owl glasses, forensic nature and hard arse exterior of John Faulkner, he’s the only man for the job.
His replacement, Robert Hill, had the unenviable task of sending Australian troops into Iraq. The pressure of making the arguments for this, and being the focus of the media blow-torch for much of 2002 and 2003 was enormous, especially for Hill, who was what the Liberals call a “moderate.” He’s now safely tucked up in a diplomatic post at the United Nations.
Brendan Nelson entered his stint as Opposition Leader carrying the baggage of the Jake Kovco debacle.
The true extent of what Joel Fitzgibbon’s been through, and exactly how much of it he brought upon himself, is yet to be confirmed. But he’s claiming he was brought down by “Judases.”
It’s safe to say it’s a rare human being who can deal with an executive portfolio so heavily reliant on a military hierarchy and culture.
John Faulkner has been around forever (well, in the Senate since 1989, which in politics, is almost forever). His reputation in Estimates is such he only has to train those extra-large lenses on someone and they risk falling of their chair. That’s the stare that’s needed across the table from the Generals. Faulkner’s the only one that’s got it.
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