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Analysis

What a Marshall Government may look like

Analysis

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If he wins on Saturday, Steven Marshall will lead a government that’s relatively familiar to voters.

While Marshall himself has just clocked up his fourth year in parliament, his key frontbenchers have more than 50 years’ experience between them.

Iain Evans, the likely treasurer in a Marshall Government, entered parliament in 1993 and served as a minister for five years under premiers John Olsen and Dean Brown.

Martin Hamilton-Smith, expected to be Marshall’s Manufacturing, Trade, and Defence Minister came into parliament in 1997 and served briefly as a minister towards the end of the Liberal’s 1997-2002 term. He was Opposition Leader from 2007 to 2009.

Marshall’s deputy Vickie Chapman, a lawyer and former party president, won the safe seat of Bragg in 2002. Chapman is expected to take the role of Attorney-General.

READ MORE: Our analysis of Labor’s options, win or lose on Saturday.

Beyond this top tier, Marshall has some tough decisions to make when shaping a ministry.

It’s expected that he will stick to his current shadow ministry structure of eight senior ministers and several junior ministers.

There are four key players in the upper house, however, who will be making a case for elevation – but that’s a large number of ministers to have away from the floor of the lower house, the House of Assembly.

Veteran MP Rob Lucas, a former Treasurer, will rightly demand a senior role as will the party’s current leader in the Legislative Council David Ridgway.

Left faction members Steven Wade and Michelle Lensink are also in the mix.

Wade has been a key shadow minister for many years and Lensink is a necessary component to giving Marshall’s team gender balance.

One solution to this conundrum would be to make Ridgway President of the Legislative Council.

That would leave Lucas and Wade in senior roles and make space for Lensink to take a junior ministry.

With senior roles allocated to Chapman, Evans, Hamilton-Smith, Lucas, Wade and Marshall himself, that leaves two spots to fill.

One of those is Education.

David Pisoni has spent six years as the shadow minister and his dogged pursuit of the sex abuse scandals within the department sent Labor into an 18-month spin that clouded its march to this year’s election.

As the Debelle Inquiry found – and new CEO and former copper Tony Harrison is also finding – the department is broken.

Harrison has told confidantes that achieving change is like “swimming in treacle” as he deals with claims of endemic bullying in one section,  extremely high levels of stress cases and a raft of disciplinary actions ranging from sex abuse to porn and an embezzler’s bizarre promotion as a financial counsellor.

This department will require a tough CEO and a minister who won’t be hoodwinked by bureaucrats.

Harrison has a strong personal link to current minister Jennifer Rankine and the Libs are unlikely to trust him.

Marshall’s task therefore, is to find a CEO and minister up to the task of complete rebuilding the department.

If Pisoni wants it, he’ll get it. but the question will be, does he want it?

That leaves one senior spot left for one of the class of 2010.

Dan van Holst Pellekaan is ambitious and confident; Riverland MP Tim Whetsone, however, is probably the better fit.

The undercard of six junior portfolios is likely to be filled by Steven Griffiths, Lensink, van Holst Pellekaan, and three others.

Those remaining spots will be filled from the old guard of Isobel Redmond, Duncan McFetridge and Terry Stephens along with the newer MPs Peter Treloar and John Gardner.

Redmond or McFetridge will lay claim to the Speaker’s role if the Liberals gain a clear majority and independents did not need to be enticed.

The one name missing from this list is Rachel Sanderson.

Sanderson’s campaigning efforts in the tough seat of Adelaide helped the Liberals steal it from under Labor’s nose in 2010 and her strong work in the seat is expected to keep it in the party’s hands.

The reality, however, is that she will need to keep up that level of local work, so the party may have to reward her efforts with the chairmanship of a key committee.

Will this new government “shake the rafters” and bring radical change?

No.

Fixing the endemic problems within many major departments will be like turning around the Queen Mary.

And the Liberal’s long years in the political wilderness should be enough to instill some caution as it rebuilds a more permanent faith in its ability to govern.

The first Marshall Government State Budget, due in September, will be most affected by shifts in Commonwealth revenue estimates … and there’s not a Treasury official in the nation who can guess what they might be.

 

 

 

 

 

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