Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 15:05 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 15:05 | SYDNEY

Defence loses yet another minister


Sam Roggeveen


8 July 2010 10:16

And so, with the retirement announcement from Senator John Faulkner, Australia is set to lose yet another Defence Minister. When the next government is sworn in, we will have our eighth Defence Minister since the Howard Government took office in 1996. Has any other department — let alone one with such huge responsibilities and budget allocation — suffered that kind of turnover?

A thread through the commentary on Faulkner is his enormous personal integrity and the emotional weight which the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan has placed on him. The Lowy Institute's Hugh White takes this one step further, speculating that Faulkner may in fact harbour doubts about the Afghanistan mission itself. Faulkner's office denies this.

Hugh also repeats the oft-made observation that the Defence portfolio is a graveyard for political careers. Perfectly true, and in that context it's worth going back to Graeme Dobell's column after Labor lost its previous Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon. Graeme points to some deep structural and cultural problems that will hobble the next minister just as they have all the others.