Following the ministerial resignations of Jamie Briggs and Mal Brought yesterday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has the opportunity to reshuffle his ministry, an opportunity he is expected to take up in February after Nationals Leader Warren Truss makes his future plans known.
Knowing that a reshuffle is coming up, Senator Eric Abetz who was dumped from cabinet in September after Turnbull came to power told reporters today that Abbott should be promoted to the ministry in any reshuffle to unify the party.
“I hope that he stays in the Parliament and I hope that there will be a place for him, a prominent place for him in a future ministry, should he decide to stay … and I think the Australian people would welcome that,” he said.
“Just as much as when other leaders have been deposed they have been rehabilitated into cabinet or shadow cabinet and I think that is important for the unity of the party, if that is at all possible.”
Abetz’s comments were echoed by Nationals Senator John Williams.
“I think if Tony Abbott were to go back in the cabinet that would be a good way to heal the wounds of the past,” he told the ABC.
Turnbull, while not completely ruling out an Abbott return to the frontbench threw cold water on the suggestion, saying that the focus would be on bringing fresh talent to the ministry.
By and large, the Abbott and Turnbull ministries appear to be a rehash of the Howard era. Despite wanting to project an image of the country being in steady, experienced hands the real projection has been of a lack of talent on the coalition benches. Australians want to see the country going forward, not being a throw back of a decade ago.
One would think that an Abbott ministry would be unpopular, given that a majority his own electorate thinks it’s time for him to bow out of politics. Abetz and Williams are clearly out of touch with the rest of the country. Abbott’s time has come and gone.
The coalition needs to go through generational change and to do that it needs to promote fresh faces to the ministry benches, rather than resurrect out of touch Howard era ministers.