The second part of the story about the departure of Julie Bishop from the shadow Treasurer's gig is what happens now to all those stories about a succession in NSW. Crikey and others have been full of the stories of various machinations to ensconse Joe Hockey in NSW, be it via Jillian Skinner's seat or some other.
These stories have been fed by the simple observation that the Liberals in NSW under Peter Debnam were unelectable, and that despite all the promises they don't look much better under Barry O'Farrell. There seems no prospect of jolly Joe making the transition now! So where do the desperate NSW Liberals turn now - on their form it is inconceivable that they'll run to the election without turmoil.
Meanwhile the three-fold shift in personnel hasn't done anything to improve the coalition front bench. Senator Coonan will be monumentally out of her depth in Finance, and will be no match for Tanner in a head-to-head on Lateline (and has anyne else noted how odd it is that she and her Senate leader now have officially swapped their jobs at the time of the last Telstra privatisation in Opposition). One wonders why the coalition weren't more adventurous and at least promote Andrew Robb to Finance. Does Robb now have a "lean and hungry look". Julie Bishop will make no impact on Foreign Affairs - but that is no change, either for Bishop or the coalition in Foreign Affairs. That leaves the only hope that Joe works as Shadow Treasurer. But looking at his form it is unlikely. In Government he was a good "Mr Fix-It", he is personable on the telly, but over does the senorious critique. But he has no record of really getting down and dirty in policy analysis - which is what the coalition has been lacking in economic policy.
Similarly the choice of the squeaky clean (or lean and squeaky) Chris Pyne as manager of opposition business seems strange. Tony Abbott might not be everyone's choice as their dinner companion, but his determination and mongrel could be expected to put some more spine into tactics.
We know they opposed the stimulus package, we know they sort of would like to see tax cuts brought forward. It isn't the job of Oppositions to promote alternative policy as such, but it is there job to create a framework around which their criticism is based. This was the lesson of the Beazley inheritance - no amount of looking serious and attacking a policy works unless the people you want to nod their heads as you make these points can really understand what difference you would make.
As the NSW Liberals are starting to realise there is a big difference between getting the punters unhappy or uncomfortable with the current Government, there is a big step in converting that into a positive belief that the alternative can be better rather than simply the general resignation that Government continually fails us. The benefits of incumbency are many, but the biggest of them all is "better the devil you know".