The appointment of Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO as acting Health Minister will see the current Government distracted, but not derailed, on its health agenda in 2017. Insiders are reporting it will business as usual for both Sussan Ley’s and Sinodinos’ offices while the review into her travel expenses is undertaken. Leys’ office will continue to do the hard yards with Sinodinos to do the signing. It’s an interesting choice by the Prime Minister to have Sinodinos act.
Sinodinos will have some sympathy for Ley’s predicament, having stepped away as Assistant Treasurer (under the Abbott Ministry) while he was the subject of an NSW Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) investigation. While ICAC absolved Sinodinos, many believed his involvement and actions in the NSW Liberal party donations saga failed to pass the pub test.
Ironically, this is the same pub test that Ley has just failed, and which will place her career in a political holding pattern while the Prime Minister’s department conduct its review. So much for a quiet start for the year for PM&C’s Secretary, Dr Martin Parkinson.
Sinodinos is a well-connected and well-known Senator for New South Wales, and until the anti-corruption investigation, a core member of the leadership of both the Liberal Party and the Government. No one can deny his political credibility, derived mainly from his nine years as former Prime Minister Howard’s Chief of Staff. He is considered intelligent, hardworking and honest and one of the nicest guys in Parliament.
His temporary appointment can be viewed as his re-entry back into the inner circle. Turnbull turning to a traditional Liberal powerbroker to help stabilise his Government and his own party room amongst the growing disillusionment of the Australia public. A set of steady hands who will not look to grab the limelight or the headlines during the ‘holding period’. A knowledgeable and trusted spokesperson who can help keep the ship steady.
For now Ley’s future sits in the hands of Dr Parkinson and public sentiment. We predict that, like Sinodinos, all will be forgiven if findings are favorable. Though like Sinodinos, there are still some rounds of drinks to be purchased at the pub for all to be forgotten.