Mark Dreyfus must have been a wonderful lawyer. The 54-year-old Victorian QC is now the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency - the man who answers questions on the Federal Government’s bungling of its multi-billion dollar home insulation program.
At a press conference this morning journalists quizzing Mr Dreyfus over the latest scathing report into the $2.45 billion scheme were privileged to an impressive display of Mr Dreyfus’s lawyer skills, as we were delivered so many non-answers to questions.
Not only that, but journalists weren’t able to get their hands on a copy of the full report until 11am - the exact time Mr Dreyfus did his press conference.
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“That’s not insulation, THIS is insulation,” a Canberra insider quipped in mock Paul Hogan at news of Australian involvement in the Dubai assassination plot.
Three weeks of intense scrutiny over the bungled $2.45 billion free home insulation scheme, suddenly gave way to a news of an `actual’ political assassination.
And what a story it was, instantly providing Kevin Rudd and his beleaguered Environment Minister, Peter Garrett with some welcome political insulation. As former Liberal leader, John Hewson, noted, the PM grabbed it with unusual relish, so keen was he to start talking about something else.
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Peter Garrett’s demotion by Kevin Rudd this afternoon has all the hallmarks of a sacking - it is humiliating, it is based on poor performance, and it leaves him with virtually no power in his narrowly-defined portfolio.
But it isn’t a sacking, because Kevin Rudd does not want to give the Opposition the satisfaction of claiming a ministerial scalp, with all the political momentum such a blow would generate.
Sneakily announced late on a Friday to avoid mass media scrutiny throughout a full week, and with the Parliament not sitting next week, Kevin Rudd said his decision to limit Garrett’s responsibilities followed a long conversation with his besieged Environment Minister today.
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