Resignations to take toll on Labor

The surprise resignations of two senior Labor ministers and the uncertain future of a number of others has handed Isobel Redmond a golden opportunity in the lead-up to an election due in April, 2014.

The loss of Patrick Conlon, who held the important portfolios of transport and infrastructure as well as housing and urban development, and John Hill, the Minister for Health and Ageing, will leave a massive hole in the Government’s ranks.

Both were experienced managers of their departments and smart politicians.

And with the uncertain future of embattled Education Minister Grace Portolesi, suggestions that Environment Minister Paul Caica will also step down before the next election and the questionable performance of new Industrial Relations Minister Russell Wortley, Premier Jay Weatherill has a host of problems on his hands.

For a government which has been in power since 2002 it suddenly finds itself with surprisingly few proven performers to take on senior positions.

The clear lesson from the Howard era was that renewal is vital for a long-serving and successful government.

Howard paid the price for not bringing in new blood to his leadership team and the State Labor Party recognised that failing.

But its immediate concern must be that the renewal has now gone too far which has the potential to expose a soft underbelly with inexperienced Ministers having little more than 12 months to develop a positive public image and prove their worth.

The resignations of Mike Rann, Kevin Foley, Paul Holloway, Patrick Conlon and John Hill have gutted what was once an invincible team.

Only time will prove if the likes of Tom Koutsantonis, Tom Kenyon, Chloe Fox and Michael O’Brien have what it takes.

Mrs Redmond must be rubbing her hands together with glee.

Opportunities like this happen rarely in the lead-up to an election and the Liberals have had more than a decade to hone their skills and prepare their policies.

However, they have proven a relatively ineffective Opposition apart from the recent hits made by David Pisoni on Ms Portolesi and have also lost a prime Parliamentary performer in Martin Hamilton-Smith.

The one vote win by Ms Redmond in the recent leadership fight has not been fully resolved (her current deputy wanted her removed and preferred Mr Hamilton-Smith as leader) and the rumblings continue about the possible entry of Alexander Downer to the State stage.

The future is deliciously unclear.