WHEN the Prime Minister of Australia publicly launches both barrels at you, you’d reasonably expect your political career to be in serious trouble.
PM Scott Morrison last week gave his Liberal Party colleague and NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean a dressing down the likes of which is rarely seen in public.
Kean, a “science is settled” global warming activist, was told by the PM that he didn’t know what he was talking about, that he was an unknown in cabinet and that he didn’t have a clue what was going on.
The Prime Minister even gave Kean public instruction on how to do his job.
Any one of these rebukes could have instantly ended a minister’s career. In fact, it’s surprising that Kean failed to tender his resignation.
The PM’s brutal “advice” was backed by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro who said Minister Kean was not “representative” of government. This is perhaps the most damning condemnation of a Party politician and government minister.
The only major player to remain silent was Kean’s immediate boss NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Kean’s public dressing down came after he falsely suggested in a Sky News interview that the Federal Government was facing a party room revolt over climate policy.
In his response, the PM didn’t mince his words. “I don’t know what he’s talking about,” he told Nine’s Today show. “I think Matt should focus on [fire] hazard reduction, I’ll focus on emissions reduction.”
Morrison also told ABC Radio: “Matt Kean doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t know what’s going on in the federal cabinet. Most of the federal cabinet wouldn’t even know who Matt Kean was.” [see video below]
In the wake of such criticism, how is it possible for Kean to retain his Ministry? The short answer is that factions are at play.
In NSW, Matt Kean is a big tadpole in a small pond. Along with Trent Zimmerman, he controls numbers within NSW’s aggressive Left-wing faction who refer to themselves as the “Moderates”. Everyone else calls them the Gay Left Mafia.
It’s this faction that supported legalising late term abortion, of going soft on bestiality laws and of blocking the promised religious freedoms that were supposed to follow homosexual marriage.
The Gay Left “Moderates” are a big deal in NSW. NSW Premier Berejiklian could struggle to retain her premiership without its support. Deposed Liberal PM Malcolm Turnbull remains in its debt.
But the Moderates are small fry federally. When Kean overstepped his remit he ran into a PM who has the backing of a significantly more powerful faction – the Centre Right. This faction is known as the Soft Right (as opposed to the conservative Right faction).
The Centre Right is lead by Alex Hawke who, with the PM’s blessing, fell in behind Jim Molan to return the NSW senator to Federal Parliament after he was initially rolled by Kean’s “Moderates”.
So while Kean’s political career in NSW remains safe for now, he can kiss good-bye any federal ambitions he may have held.
For as long as Alex Hawke draws breath, Kean’s only path into federal politics would be via the ALP or, perhaps more appropriately, The Greens.
Finally, to answer the headline question: “Is the Prime Minister in charge?” Yes, very much so, and he has an extremely powerful guard of political allies to prove it.PC