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Published: Australian Financial Review

The need to control comes naturally to Kevin Rudd, the ability to lead does not.

By any yardstick Peter Garrett lost the plot in relation to the delivery of a multi-billion dollar tax payer funded project. Exposure saw Rudd prevaricate. He sought to spin the issue along the lines of a public servant before a Senate estimates committee. Eventually Rudd was tapped on the shoulder, he agreed to demote Garrett and give responsibility to Greg Combet to wind down the old roof insulation scheme and get a new one off the ground – by June! A big ask.

Capable, big hearted and loyal Combet agreed. He now has as much responsibility as Julia Gillard and yet he has been left out of cabinet, while Garrett with responsibility for whales, rivers and national parks has been left in.

Rudd’s push for the rapid roll out of the insulation program and his prevarication of election promises on whales make Garrett look incompetent and weak; his career in politics is all but over.

Rudd has sought to avoid difficult decisions. He must make Combet a minister or look incompetent as a leader. He looks like he is taking a great big lend of Combet and that is exactly what he is doing.
Combet should be the Minister for Defence and Energy Technology. It should be a senior ministry.
Rudd does not reward loyalty or competence, if he did all of his parliamentary secretaries would have ministries.

Rudd has kept Garrett in cabinet because he believes Garrett’s former job as a rock star will pull some votes from amongst his fan club. Rudd, as always, is trying to have it both ways, trying to control, in this case, nonsensical outcomes. Cabinet efficiency should not be held hostage to this lack of commonsense and gutlessness.