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CHEAP SEATS: VEXNEWS know-alls tell Dr Denis how to cure what ails government

CheapseatsDenis Napthine has made hopelessly inadequate changes to his ministerial line-up. It’s not the radical surgery many Liberals hoped the country vet would be able to perform.

Lavished with praise around Spring Street for having the potential to bring back the biff into Victorian state politics, Dr Denis has squibbed some key obvious changes.

Boning Trade minister Richard Dalla Riva while he was actually on a trade mission to India was a true moment of hilarity, worthy of a Yes Minister episode. Hopefully he can still get on his pre-paid Business class return flight, otherwise he might end up being a Slumdog Millionaire, armed with only his parliamentary defined benefit pension that only some pre-Latham-era MPs get these days, so he would certainly be well-off by local standards and could perhaps seek high office in one of India’s famously robust legislatures. Of the many candidates for boning, I wouldn’t have had him that high on the list, to be honest, so that did seem a bit arbitrary. Critics said he was lazy. Defenders say he didn’t have much to do with a bunch of light portfolios and did it with the diligence required.

It’s all so easy from the cheap seats, where you’re not accountable to neighbouring spectators for your yobbish observations but Napthine needed to man up. Here are a few helpful VEXNEWS suggestions:

Bone Peter Ryan completely, offer him a cosy government appointment, perhaps keeping an eye on former Baillieu COS Michael Kapel, the real risk of the Nats losing a by-election in his safe seat would be nil. Instead he was treated with kid gloves, taking us all for goats. He ended up getting the sweet gig that Evan Thornley refused, handing out lollies and corporate welfare to the Big End of Town and continues as Deputy Premier. This risks catastrophe for the government if more Overland related scandal is out there;

Bone Kim Wells. Check. Napthine did that and gave him Police, an area you’d think a conservative government would find rich with political opportunity. Complete madness. It should have actually gone to O’Brien, who was a minor-level barrister for about five minutes, but would be tougher on crime than the average constable at an Occupy protest. He looks like he’s for the death penalty, so tough and up-tight can be his demeanour, precisely what a Police minister should be. Instead they made him Treasurer, where he’ll certainly do better than Wells but perhaps not that much better.

Promote Matthew Guy. OK, the Baillieu forces think Matty or Matty’s chums were agitating for a change of leadership. True. But also true is that Guy is the stand-out political talent of the Victorian government. A confident, comfortable in his toughness, kinda leader would have made him Treasurer. Having a top-shelf cut-through kick-heads political communicator Treasurer is a critical success factor in every government in our view. The only one they have is Guy. Maybe Mobbi can rise to the occasion but it will be a big lift.

Bone Terry Mulder, Martin Dixon, Wendy Lovell, Jeanette Powell, Gordon Rich-Phillips, etc. They have all struggled in their roles. In some cases they are ministers for practically nothing. Why do we have a state minister for Aviation? Perhaps we could also have a state Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, in fact I volunteer for the role, I would institute exciting new alliances with freedom-loving states and provoke at least two diplomatic incidents with Cuba, Venezeula or PRC per annum and threaten to invade Fiji and annex Albury to be renamed Wodonga-North.

Not promote Heidi Victoria, not, as The Age protested, because she’s pro-life (!) but because we think she’s not that good. She is the MP who famously said she found being a model much harder work than being an MP. Puh-lease, daarling.

Promote Andrea Coote and Phil Davis. They quit years back as the upper house leadership team in an attempt to destabilise Baillieu. Best to destabilise from within, we would advise. Rest is history and they’re both still frozen out, with Phil Davis in the deepest of deep freeze. On merit, they’d both be ministers.

Keep David Davis and the few success stories where they were. I couldn’t have imagined David Davis would have been one of the strongest Baillieu ministers but he has been a surprise as Health minister. The Nats Peter Walsh has been good too, he should have stepped up and become Nats Leader if Napthine had been able to get rid of Ryan. Robert Clark has been a good A-G and has sound political instincts. They rest should all have been switched or dumped. Maybe, we’ll give kudos to Andrew McIntosh too for delivering

Insist Baillieu be in the ministry – replacing Guy in Planning. Reputedly Guy has instituted most of the changes he planned in Planning, leaving Red Ted to appease stakeholders, NIMBYs and Jon Faine on development issues as they arose, he would have done it well. His knowledge of and passion for building design is one of few enthusiasms the bloke he ever allowed himself to express.

The fact that so little of the above was possible and that Dr Denis did the bare essentials in terms of reshuffle shows that theorising about politics from here is a hell of a lot easier than doing it. Napthine will now have to hope that he’s done enough to kick-start the sputtering government he inherits from a mostly clueless predecessor. He started, well, OK. But just barely OK. And that’s going to keep things interesting til the next state election, where Napthine needs to stop state politics being interesting and start looking decisive.

Having pontificated on the personnel, we’ll spare the policy prescription for another time, but generally it’s clear the government needs to be seen to be fixing the problems and building the future, as they once promised so long ago.

There’s a shopping list of infrastructure projects, build some. Spend up a bit. Communicate a vision for growth and prosperity for all the state. Potentially, Dr Denis could reach out to country electorates in a way that will be way beyond his predecessor. They could reach for the stars, if only they’d make a few tough decisions.



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  1. Bill Tilley for Police Minister with Weston as his Chief of Staff. You know that they would keep Ken Lay in line. Poor old Ken Delay would be terrified. No more IT budget blow outs or parolee deaths under a Tilley administration

    Posted by Anonymous | March 13, 2013, 21:33
  2. Bill Tilley for Police Minister with Weston as his Chief of Staff. You know that they would keep Ken Lay in line. Poor old Ken Delay would be terrified. No more IT budget blow outs or parolee deaths under a Tilley administration

    Posted by Brian | March 13, 2013, 21:33
  3. What about Inga?

    Posted by Still waiting... | March 13, 2013, 21:57
  4. After plotting with Bernie Finn and Geoff Shaw to get rid of Ted, so that Mr Guy could get the top spot, Inga must be kicking herself, no Mr Guy and no ministry and if the Liberal redistribution gets adopted then there will be no second spot either. Even if it’s not then she will have to fight to death to stop Liberal power house Peter Angelico stealing it from under her nose.

    Posted by Inga for PM | March 13, 2013, 22:28
  5. Plenty more time to pursue my main interest of ‘driving home’ young teenage ladies.

    Posted by RDR | March 13, 2013, 22:32
  6. A least now Paulie P has a seat he can run for Mummy’s made Frankston available. Paulie P south east DJ and two bit councillor for Frankston!!!!!!!

    Posted by Anonymous | March 13, 2013, 22:33
  7. Nena have you still got those plastic explosives from Bosnia hidden in your bloomers?

    Posted by Inga Binga | March 13, 2013, 22:36
  8. Michael O’Brien will make a far better Treasurer than the previous holder of that important office.

    It will be great to have someone who has had significant experience at the Federal level holding the position given the funding relationship between the State and Federal levels determines the lion’s share of the State budget.

    Further, Michael O’Brien is undoubtedly one of the smartest members in the Cabinet.

    He will work well with Robert Clark who as Minister for Finance will be responsible for keeping a lid on expenditure while delivering on the services promises. The enterprise agreements with the nurses and police have been victories for the unions who had considerable public support and the cost to the budget has been significant. The teachers and emergency personnel (paramedics, firefighters etc) also have general public support and can cause much dislocation without actually striking.

    Let’s see what sort of budget numbers O’Brien will have to deal with.

    In the meantime, a new Premier may be able to deliver on the cost savings (i.e. reduction in services) that will enable the overall level of business taxation and regulatory fees to be cut.

    The Liberal/National Coalition really only has until Christmas to deliver on its structural and policy changes before the fixed election cycle renders it impossible to do anything but have a generous budget of hand-outs in 2014.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | March 13, 2013, 22:40
  9. I am such an important man of influence. I terminated Red Ted with my astute political talent. I love to look at myself in the mirror as I have my hand down my boxer shorts.

    Posted by Fruit Loop Shaw | March 13, 2013, 23:17
  10. The police are going round
    aiming to bring me down

    But I say I shot the premier
    but I did not shoot the deputy.

    Posted by Regae Shaw's confession | March 14, 2013, 7:39
  11. Inga was last seen in the south east in Kingston area. 5000 hectares and out of control

    Posted by H the B | March 14, 2013, 9:45
  12. He Chopped Lurka

    Posted by Who? The Premier? | March 14, 2013, 9:52
  13. You are half right Andrew, but I have a different take on it.
    I think Ryan should have been sacked, no question. He’s a grub and has been up to no good and its all on the public record now.
    I think the decision to put Kim Wells wasa sensible one. Kim is a nice man, but totally out of his depth as Treasurer. He was a good Shadow Police Minister and returning him to that portfolio made sense.
    The ones who should have gone – dickhead Ryan SMith, a fool with a safe seat. Wendy Lovehandles, nice but stupid. Martin Dixon, nice but stupid.
    Dump Gordon Rich-Phillips – Anyone who still lives at home with his parents at 40 is surely a phantom underpant sniffer and a dud minister to boot.
    Promote Phil Davis, Andrea Coote, Simon Ramsay and the like.
    The good Doctor has missed some opportunities which may cost him in the long run.

    Posted by Roy Tuswell Seat Sniffer | March 14, 2013, 16:34
  14. Let’s take a poll.
    If you left Gordon Rich-Phillips alone in your house, do you think he would go through your underpants draw or the laundry hamper?
    (Gordon’s mummy is not alowed to vote on this one)

    Posted by Roy Tuswell Seat Sniffer | March 14, 2013, 16:36
  15. I would love to fondle Gordon’s underpants especially if he was in them. I must invite him to the bath house.

    Posted by Pissy Chryne | March 14, 2013, 19:09
  16. Ryan Smith is way out of his depth.

    Posted by Anon | March 14, 2013, 21:15
  17. Admin Committee needs to get serious about preselections now rather than just before the 2014 election.

    Get Matthew Guy into a safe lower house seat eg Hawthorn and then ensure a transition to Premier after election.

    Get Carl Ziebell preselected to Ivanhoe.

    Stephen Briffa, a bright young businessman and family man for No. 2 Upper House Northern Metropolitan.

    Scott Pearce for the No. 1 Upper House position in Northern Metropolitan.

    Craig Ondarchie move to the Lower House for Eltham and then into the Ministry.

    Get rid of the old “dead wood” (we all know who they are)and get some of the talent from Young Libs into the parliament.

    Get rid of Sandra Mercer Moore (Baillieu faction) from Admin Committee.

    Mantach deserves a second chance but must learn how to consult. The Fed election will be his learning curve.

    More to come….

    Posted by Lib Watcher | March 14, 2013, 21:26
  18. Ondarchie in Eltham would cause Stevie “Potty Mouth” Herbet to wet himself. He barely made it last time against a good but unknown candidate. He’ll be lucky to get his deposit back with a known (and excellent performer) running him down.

    Posted by Another Lib Watcher | March 14, 2013, 22:08
  19. Ondarchie has some bad habits involving underaged people.

    Posted by anon | March 14, 2013, 22:57
  20. Nutty any luck finding ths Centrelink place?
    My career is more now more rooted than Shaw’s hairdresser.
    As you know cobber I’ll do anything for some easy money.

    Posted by Toothpick Dick Coulson | March 15, 2013, 0:25
  21. The South East Liberats – Agelico, Gledhill & Barrow & Clissold – it’s just a question of time…

    Posted by The South East Liberats | March 15, 2013, 0:34
  22. Dear another lib moron, Herbert would pull ondArchies little sausage apart in his bear teeth on the way to a grand and glorious victory. OndArchies all show no manhood!

    Posted by Another labor man | March 15, 2013, 6:12
  23. Ondarchie on Herbert. A yawn contest that will see informal vote reach stratosphere.

    Guy in Hawthorn? Suddenly all his selective nymby planning policies make sense. His new planing zone rules will trash middle suburbs like Burwood and Bundoora but protect the Hawthorn and camberwell. His protection of Yarra river in Hawthorn was not sucking up to TB it was a cunnng preselection pitch to the local not-in-my-backyard liberals. Well done young chap Mathew. Bye bye bad boy Baillieu.

    Posted by Northern exposure | March 15, 2013, 7:46
  24. Old moose man clissold never got enough. Old Michelle has had her bit on the side but clissy misses out. Tough turkey moose!

    Posted by South east masturbators | March 15, 2013, 8:51
  25. Thank god tony nutt has gone

    Posted by andrew rixon | March 15, 2013, 8:54
  26. I am NOT in the Baillieu faction

    Posted by Sandra No Mercy Moore | March 15, 2013, 12:19
  27. And I have not had any ‘faction’ for years.

    Posted by Sandra No Mercy Moore | March 15, 2013, 12:26
  28. hey Lib Watcher | March 14, 2013, 21:26
    what about a safe seat for Dean Migheel , he thinks he is a toff. He spends money that doesn’t belong to him on any desire he has- visits to overseas historical sites, footy clubs, non-australian made vehicles, attacking unionists. he has conservative pre-selection written all over him. he also has plenty of investment properties,he should probably be the next Liberal President!

    Posted by teds mate | March 15, 2013, 12:27
  29. The changes to the Cabinet have struck the right balance. The new Premier has made enough changes to stamp his authority and correct some obvious problems (like Ryan in Police) but he has not made the mistake of too much change, which could have destabilised everything 18 months out from the election.

    Personally I think Wells had done a good job as Treasurer though his efforts were largely unheralded and I guess he has to take some blame for this. MOB will undoubtedly do a better job and he was largely wasted in his previous portfolio.

    Phil Davis and Andrea Coote are good choses for promotion.

    Andrew – I suspect you are being unfair on Dixon but many of your other pieces of advice are basically correct but wholesale change now is not politically sensible.

    The Government needs to make Transport infrastrure a priority – in the regions but also in the city to restore some competiveness to industry and commerce.

    They need to engage with business more – not property spivs but people in real businesses to see what are their problems and restraints on growth – then prioritise projects.

    Re the public sector – it needs to be cut heavily. But it needs to be done sensibly – cut out functions brought in by the previous ALP Govt. Go back to 1990 telephone directories/org charts and head back towards those leaner structures. Don’t apply 10% cuts across the board etc – these are a cop out.

    Then spend up on teachers/schools/hospitals. It needs to be done quickly!

    Posted by Sad businessman (getting happier) | March 15, 2013, 13:38
  30. Scott Ryan buggered Matt’s career , so MOB… keep your distance from this eager beaver who leaked the Weston tapes to the Hun.

    Posted by Roberto | March 15, 2013, 13:40

    Posted by Can o' worms | March 15, 2013, 13:43
  32. I think Barrow needs to go on some public speaking lessons.

    Posted by Anon | March 15, 2013, 19:36
  33. I will fix him up.

    Posted by DD | March 15, 2013, 21:35
  34. My prolapsed lady’s department has caused some leakage again, do you have a spare Teena Lady pad?

    Posted by Sandra No More Mercy | March 15, 2013, 22:29
  35. A critical measure is that Admin needs to be cleaned out of deadwood.

    The State Government’s prospects are too important to be left entirely to State MPs – the organisation has a big role to play, especially behind the scenes.

    I question whether Tony Snell has been strong enough – a stronger president might have given advice or demanded that the State Govt address obvious performance and governance issues before recent events ocurred.

    Most of the rest of Admin are too weak for words. They are effectively the board of a large organisation but do not act in this manner. Weak leadership has resulted in the crisis at the State level.

    Most VPs and the rest on admin are ineffective except as low level party functionaries. Time to go or significantly lift performance.

    The treasurer is never seen and by all reports has hardly raised a dollar and was put there because he was a mate of Ted. Time to go.

    Then onto preselections – the parliamentary teams needs new blood – younger older men women don’t care just more competent and fired up. Fix Admin first.

    Posted by Eastern suburbs Liberal | March 15, 2013, 22:45
  36. Eastern Suburbs Liberal is right. The state Lib team is weak in Assembly and strong in Legislative Council . Move some younger, but competent talent from Council to Assembly , and leave some in coucil for 2014 . Matthew Guy, Ed Odonohue, Donna Petrovich and David Davis to Assembly for 2014 to beef up Assembly line up. Still leaves Rich Phillips, Peulich, Coote, Ondarchie, Finn and Elsbury and Ramsay etc to wipe the floor with Labor.

    Posted by Anon | March 16, 2013, 8:10
  37. Not sure elsbury Ramsay and like ate talent, god bless their souls.? Reckon peulich may be on way out. Delivered too many nutters to lower house who turned on ted. She has shat in her own patch. Ted was wise never to give her a ministry.

    Posted by South east master | March 16, 2013, 11:14
  38. Angelico Powerhouse? Only Power tool is the one that chopped a young man’s three fingers in his factory!

    Posted by Anon | March 16, 2013, 11:47
  39. Albert Park District is up for the taking in 2014. Martin Foley (ALP) only got 30% of the primary vote in 2010 but now the Greens are on the nose everywhere and the ALP are fighting with them too votes will be looking for a alternative to our little non event Mr Foley.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | March 16, 2013, 12:56
  40. The lowest hanging fruit in the new cabinet has to be Heidi Victoria. She might know a bit about the arts but the opinion of most arts organisations is that she does nothing more than take their free tickets. She might know a little about women’s affairs thanks to her two broken marriages but there aren’t many points to be scored for the government there. When it comes to Consumer Affairs she is nigh on clueless. She’s a former photographer so her contact with consumers is surely limited to the times when she’s taken a few happy snaps and charged like a wounded bull for her services. There’s no doubt that all Labor’s questions to her in Parliament will relate to consumer affairs and not her preferred portfolio. They know she’s not as smart as other government members and it won’t take much to crack her smiley exterior and make her embarrass her colleagues. After all, it’s happened before!

    Posted by Andrew | March 16, 2013, 15:01
  41. Is Paulie P the next Tristan Weston, recording private meetings!!

    Posted by Anonymous | March 16, 2013, 18:33
  42. Angelico has plenty of power in his tool unlike my Savo.

    Posted by Inga Binga | March 16, 2013, 21:17
  43. Anonymous – Kingston Council and all other councils should ban secret meetings. There should be no private or secret pre-meetings before the meetings. Then there would be no secrets to hide! Local Government should be open and transparent at all times.

    Posted by Anon | March 17, 2013, 1:26
  44. I still don’t have an answer. (1)Is Gordon Rich-Phillips a secret underpant sniffer and (2) does he still live at home with his mummy? Me thinks yes to both.

    Posted by Roy Tuswell Seat Sniffer | March 17, 2013, 10:14
  45. RDR – time to move on from Eastern Metro.

    Posted by Chairman | March 17, 2013, 18:30
  46. Happy to move anywhere if there are more teenaged ladies I could offer a ride.

    Posted by RDR | March 17, 2013, 23:02
  47. Has anyone noticed the new Treasurer O’Brien’s statements: Minimum $100 Million surplus and moderate borrowing to get on with needed infrastructure (thereby amortising asset costs over their initial life). Sound familiar? Yep, he’s got himself a copy of Treasurer Brumby’s playbook. If O’Brien plays it like the past master (as Treasurer, not Premier) Napthine’s choice of Treasurer may just earn him a statue outside 1 Treasury Pl as a long lived Premier.

    Posted by Don't Speak Too Soon | March 17, 2013, 23:15
  48. Angelico the unscrupulous business man, Barrow the fat obnoxious pommie and Gledhill the corrupt councillor – continue their destabilisation in the south east, when will they get the message there services are no longer required

    Posted by Anon | March 18, 2013, 0:42
  49. Gkedhill is a decent honorable man, Inga is an obese dishonest hog.

    Posted by anon | March 18, 2013, 20:38
  50. Gkedhill is a decent honorable man – I am doubled up laughing!!!

    Posted by Anon | March 19, 2013, 1:04


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