The Government’s report card for 2019

THE COALITION: B+

THE Coalition defied odds and won the election many said could not be won. Despite leadership changes, Morrison was able to unite a team battle-scarred from the demise of Malcolm Turnbull.

The Budget is on track to be in surplus for the first time in 11 years. However, challenges loom on the economy, namely building consumer confidence and wage growth.

The NDIS needs fixing and sensible reform is needed in industrial relations.

If the drought lingers Morrison will have to go harder on climate change mitigation because growing numbers of the community will demand it and this could spark internal divisions. Morrison needs to reshuffle his Cabinet and has to find a way to get some Nationals ministers to deliver. Out of a Cabinet of 23, he only has about nine very good ministers.

 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

 

SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINISTER: A-

Morrison won the "unwinnable" election through hard work, good instincts and a team who fell in line behind him after the rolling of Malcolm Turnbull.

He will be consigned to the Liberal history books as a hero. Morrison has good instincts, rewards loyalty and has shown he won't throw colleagues under a bus when he is in strife.

In some regards, Morrison is rewriting the rules on how to be PM, refusing to be held hostage to the news cycle.

Needs to reshuffle his frontbench because many of the underperformers are Nationals but is hamstrung by the Coalition agreement.

He can come across as smug and arrogant and still needs to work on his manner.

 

MICHAEL MCCORMACK, DEPUTY PM, INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: D

 

McCormack is failing on a number of fronts; he is not selling the Government's $10 billion infrastructure spend properly, he is not doing enough in terms of the National Water Grid and leads the most fractured

National Party in recent times.

He took over from Barnaby Joyce and has now been Deputy Prime Minister for the same period as Joyce was.

So what has he achieved? Not much. He has taken a back seat to Morrison on drought issues, which should be National Party bread-and-butter.

 

JOSH FRYDENBERG, DEPUTY LIBERAL LEADER AND TREASURER: B

 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg holding a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg holding a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith

 

Frydenberg is the political version of an Energizer Bunny. He gets credit for relentlessly working over December/January and for his dogged pursuit of Labor and its "$144 billion in higher taxes".

He has also been instrumental in underscoring to colleagues and the community on the need for a surplus, which is on track to be delivered.

He is one of the best at stakeholder engagement, internally and externally.

But Frydenberg frustrates colleagues sometimes by taking too long to make decisions and he is yet to unveil a robust, long-term vision as Treasurer.

One of his flaws is that he wants to be everyone's friend - a hard position to maintain in politics. As for the economy, slower growth is still a good problem to have, especially when other countries are going backwards.

Big tests to come in May's Budget.

 

MATHIAS CORMANN, FINANCE MINISTER: A

 

Senator Mathias Cormann at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Mathias Cormann at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith

 

The Morrison Government's star performer. Cormann keeps a firm hand on spending and played a crucial role during the May election.

It is untrue that Cormann's star power dramatically fell after the rolling of Turnbull. He remains one of the most respected and needed in parliament. He also fixes problems of other ministers' making.

 

BRIDGET MCKENZIE, DEPUTY NATIONALS' LEADER AND AGRICULTURE MINISTER: D

McKenzie's handling of the dairy code of conduct was a shemozzle and spends too much time doing city media rather than regional media.

Given the country is in drought and agriculture is being so affected, it is inconceivable that too many believe David Littleproud is Agriculture Minister, which points to her lack of profile.

 

MARISE PAYNE, FOREIGN AFFAIRS: C+

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

 

Payne is doing a better job than her predecessor Julie Bishop, who treated the role as a cocktail circuit to hang out with Hollywood hunks.

But she needs to be more present on issues on China. Payne has support of female colleagues, who she regularly hosts for drinks in her office.

Trusted and liked by Morrison. Works hard but still fails to understand a media presence is part of the kit of a politician.

 

SIMON BIRMINGHAM, TRADE, TOURISM AND INVESTMENT MINISTER: B

Birmingham is the only politician who has been invited to China since the election and has been there twice.

Apart from Morrison, he had a regular voice on the campaign trail (as campaign spokesman) and he did a good job.

He has signed off on a number of trade deals (although some of the hard work was done by his predecessor Steven Ciobo). One of two moderates in Morrison's leadership team.

 

CHRISTIAN PORTER, ATTORNEY-GENERAL, LEADER OF THE HOUSE, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS MINISTER: B

A politician with too many jobs and it looks like it is taking its toll. Porter has done well to keep religious freedom issues from blowing up internally.

Is marked down for getting hoodwinked by Pauline Hanson on the so-called union-busting bill.

 

GREG HUNT, HEALTH MINISTER AND ASSISTING THE PM FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE AND CABINET: A

Best health minister Australia has had in recent times. Health has generally been seen as Labor's strong suit.

Not only has he repeatedly neutralised Labor's attacks on health, including during the election campaign, he has begun changing the narrative on how the Coalition are better managers of the portfolio through the regular listing of new drugs.

Aged care and private health insurance remain challenges, as is his manner sometimes. Hunt is polarising among colleagues.

 

 

PETER DUTTON, HOME AFFAIRS: A-

Dutton won his marginal seat again this year - an electorate he has held for 18 years.

His opponents fail to understand his popularity.

He has an unwavering hand in a very difficult portfolio, which many colleagues would refuse to take on. He faces challenges, such as asylum seekers arriving by plane.

He is an integral part of Morrison's leadership group and is valued by the PM for having a good sense of what real people want and think.

He is used a sounding board by many backbenchers, especially the newbies.

 

MICHAELIA CASH, EMPLOYMENT, SKILLS, SMALL AND FAMILY BUSINESS MINISTER: B

 

Senator Michaelia Cash at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Michaelia Cash at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith

 

A hard worker with a tough portfolio. Cash is exceptionally good at stakeholder relations and her passion for the portfolio is on show.

Cash constantly zips around the country to get feedback from small businesses and works her backbench hard.

 

KAREN ANDREWS, INDUSTRY, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MINISTER: C+

Doing a solid job in her portfolio but is a polarising figure in the Government and LNP for her stubborn views and inability to think about wider ramifications affecting her region.

 

PAUL FLETCHER, COMMUNICATIONS, CYBER SAFETY AND THE ARTS: C+

Steady. Across his brief but does not set the world on fire.

 

KEN WYATT, INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS MINISTER: C

Wyatt is working hard on indigenous constitutional recognition. But has made a missteps in running his office.

 

 

DAN TEHAN, EDUCATION MINISTER: C+

Tehan has at times been disappointing in this space, especially compared with his predecessor Simon Birmingham. The Government still needs to reform childcare and he will be under fire next year as Labor ramps up its attack.

 

MATT CANAVAN, RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA MINISTER : A-

Without Canavan, it would have been harder for Morrison to have won Capricornia and Flynn - meaning it is possible Australia could have had a hung parliament or minority government. He forced the Government to show more support for Adani and coal at a time it did not want to. An effective communicator, he is across his brief but needs to do a better job with the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

 

ANGUS TAYLOR, ENERGY AND EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS MINISTER: C

Taylor has worked hard to bring power prices down (CPI figures confirm this). But he has been lacklustre in his Emission Reductions portfolio. At times, lacks political instincts.

 

 

ANNE RUSTON, FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTER: B-

Ruston is a moderate and the right person for the job. Still learning to be in Cabinet.

 

ALAN TUDGE, POPULATION, CITIES AND URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE: B-

Tudge has done well to negotiate with states to get infrastructure deals done. Focusing on policy and a good contributor in Cabinet.

 

SUSSAN LEY, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: C

Rated by Morrison. Ley provides a different voice to Angus Taylor but has so far been unimpressive.

 

LINDA REYNOLDS, DEFENCE MINISTER: C

Reynolds hasn't sparked a mutiny within the ranks but is not the best fit as Defence Minister.

 

DAVID LITTLEPROUD, WATER RESOURCES, DROUGHT, RURAL FINANCE, NATURAL DISASTER AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: B

Littleproud has a tough job to do but is building his profile in his community. He has a good rapport with the PM's office.

 

STUART ROBERT, NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES MINISTER: B-

Many on both sides thought Robert would have stuffed-up by now.

Solid in Question Time. Considered a fixer and will get the job done but the challenge will be whether all the t's are crossed.



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