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Howard's reshuffle and the Cultural Revolution

Never mind the personnel changes announced this morning in John Howard's ministerial reshuffle (though I'll get to those shortly). The thing that struck me on first reading through the press release was the changes in vocabulary.

The words "multicultural" and "heritage" have joined "indigenous" in the Cultural Revolutionary Shredder. The minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs becomes the minister for Immigration and Citizenship, while the minister for Environment and Heritage becomes the minister for the Environment and Water Resources. Indigenous or aboriginal affairs have been gone from the ministerial lexicon for years.

It's not as if JWH doesn't like long-winded titles. Helen Coonan is, for example, still minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, for example. Do I see something sinister in the shift in focus from multiculturalism to "citizenship"? You betcha.

How long before we see a Minister for Mateship, Minister for Cricket and Rugby Union or a Minister for Radical Christian Ministries?

Amanda Vanstone deserved the axe, but I keep seeing the word "scapegoat" when I look at the list of Usual Suspects who are still safe in their senior positions: Alexander Downer, Peter Costello, Brendon Nelson, Tony Abbott, and Phillip Ruddock are all still in their jobs.

Can you believe that Alexander Downer has been foreign minister for almost eleven years? And it's not as if his performance of late has been stellar... he has guided Australia into the position where everybody in South-East Asia and the Pacific hates our guts and thinks we are bully boys for the US. (Which we are, or at least our government is.)

The best thing we can hope is that this will be John-Boy's final year as Prime Minister.