The Parliament House gossip for weeks now has had Australian Minister for Defence, Senator the Honourable David Johnston, head of the short-list of Cabinet ministers ready for sacking. As someone who avoids the big house on the hill like the plague I can shed no guidance as to the inspiration for the stories but the but the campaign against the Senator certainly got a kick along this morning.
Retired Major-General Jim Molan, who was asked to act as the Minister’s adviser on next year’s Defence White Paper, after he helped devise the Government’s border protection policy, told Channel 10 he quit because he realised it would not be feasible to continue in the role.
“The reason for this being not feasible had nothing to do with the professionalism of the Department of Defence, of the [Australian Defence Force], of the chief of the Defence Force or the secretary of the Department,” he said. When it was suggested Mr Molan was narrowing his criticism down to Mr Johnston, he said: “Well, that’s a conclusion you can come to and that’s something that I would discuss in private with others.”
That’s as close as an old soldier can go to dropping a bucket on his boss and will increase the volume of the gossip and the pressure that some people are tying to put on the Prime Minister to make a change.
Unfortunately for Tony Abbott there are dangers in making a replacement. Principal among them is that Defence Minister Johnston is a Senator in a Senate where the Abbott government has difficulties enough already in getting the numbers. The last thing the Abbott government needs is another loose cannon from his own minority team to deal with.
The Queenslander Ian Macdonald is doing enough damage already as he uses his unwanted freedom of the backbench to remind the PM of the danger that comes from sacking one of his front benchers.