Fitzgibbon out, Faulkner in
The departure of Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon is, on balance, good news for the Rudd government. Most importantly, in the first real test case, Rudd has stuck to his ministerial standards rather than bend the rules for a close ally. Fitzgibbon had received the benefit of the doubt a couple of times, but allowing his office to be used by a family member for lobbying was just too much. (Note the family motif in most of Fitzgibbon’s problems – another argument against hereditary MPs).
A scandal of this kind is never good, but such things are inevitable. That the Rudd government has suffered only one such loss after 18 months in office compares very favorable with state Labor governments and with the Howard government, which lost a string of ministers and Parliamentary secretaries before Howard threw out the rules to save Warwick Parer – after that, there was scarcely a member of the Cabinet who wasn’t implicated in some kind of corrupt or dodgy dealing.
Finally, if there’s any truth to the claim that Defence staff were undermining Fitzgibbon to block his reform agenda, they scored a Pyhrric victory here. John Faulkner is going to cause them much more grief than Fitzgibbon ever could.