/ 25 March 2021

Morrison weighs up reshuffle

THE SQUIZ
Speculation mounted yesterday that PM Scott Morrison will reshuffle his ministry to shift Attorney-General Christian Porter and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds to other frontbench roles. Porter is on leave to look after his mental health after historical rape claims were levelled against him. And Reynolds is on medical leave on her cardiologist’s advice after her former staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in her office. Both are due back at work next week.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Look, we’ll need to wait and see. But what is becoming clear is that Morrison’s attempts to move forward after revelations of a toxic workplace culture and claims of sexual assault aren’t working. In that context, Morrison will need to make a call by Sunday about whether he can wear the ongoing costs of defending Porter and Reynolds. And there are also issues beyond the political calculations to consider. The first is that Morrison’s received legal advice from the Solicitor-General about Porter continuing as the Attorney-General when he’s seeking to use the court system for which he’s responsible to sue the ABC. We don’t know what that advice is. And reports say there are concerns about Reynolds’ health that shouldn’t be brushed over.

‘COS THESE ISSUES AIN’T GOING AWAY…
Nope. That’s because since the Higgins allegations first came to light in mid-February, there has been a steady drip-feed of ugly allegations – including yesterday’s claims that longtime Tassie Senator Eric Abetz had some choice words to say about the former staffer. He’s stridently denied the accusations. And it’s also a big thing because of Morrison’s own handling of the issues. He yesterday tried to explain Tuesday’s runaway press conference as an example of good intentions gone wrong. “Blokes don’t get it right all the time. We all know that, but what matters is that we’re desperately trying to,” he said during an interview with Nine Radio’s Ray Hadley. “I’m just glad the footy’s back on. It helps everybody,” he said. All of which is garnering international attention… After today, Parliament does not resume until the Budget is handed down on 11 May.

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