He knows the job like the back of his hand. His own electorate of Wannon, in western Victoria, is a powerhouse in dairy, wool and beef exports and will be economically threatened in any trade war with our biggest trading partner. Tehan’s time in the education portfolio gives him an incredible insight into the importance of international students, now one of the nation’s most critical export industries.
Almost every element of the nation’s recovery will be affected by its relationship with China – economic, trade, universities, tourism… on and on it goes. Morrison knows this and that’s why he’s given Mr Fix-It Tehan the role.
Re-shuffles are dangerous times for leaders without authority and despite Morrison having no question marks hanging over his own, he’s has still largely avoided spooking the horses.
Up onto the frontbench comes Andrew Hastie – a war hero who has been in Parliament for five years and was overdue for greater responsibilities. Victorian Jane Hume grows her economic portfolio and has been made a junior minister, while Queenslander Amanda Stoker, a conservative, has been promoted as Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General.
Alan Tudge, who has attracted attention for all the wrong reasons in the past few months, gets a fresh start in education. It is, however, a portfolio where most of the hard work has been already done in the past five years.
Ben Morton, the PM’s right-hand man, has been given more titles but they still don’t reflect the amount of problems he solves for the government.
Having handled the health crisis, Greg Hunt will now be held accountable when it comes to Aged Care as well. It is a mighty mess and the challenges are vast. Morrison knows his government will be vulnerable on it unless it quickly solves the many issues in the sector.
But all in all it was dull and underwhelming. Exactly what Morrison wanted. Twelve months ago he jetted off on an ill-advised holiday to Hawaii and it threatened to define his leadership. But the challenges which followed handed him a second-chance to make a good impression.
Next year will make or break his government. It has many problems to deal with on climate, unemployment, low wage growth and growing disadvantage.
Although, we can all agree, things could be much worse. As the PM said on Friday: “Australians will join in a Christmas this year that, in so many other places, they will not.”
We can all be thankful for that.
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra