Nalton Brangman’s Resignation
I don’t think anyone should really be surprised at Mr Brangman’s resignation from the Senate – the only surprise really would be about the timing.
I’ve called for Mr Brangman to be replaced in the Senate a few times – I saw him as under-performing as a Minister and as a Senator in general, and his decision to take up a post with the Morgans Point development while initially refusing to resign as the Junior Minister for Tourism indicated poor judgement on his part.
However, being a nice person isn’t enough to justify being a Senator, and I felt the OBA would be better off, in the long term, replacing him with another person who might bring more to the table.
And while the Senate should not strictly be seen as a sort of training ground for new talent, it does have that role also. It does serve as a way to introduce and trial new talent and build up a candidate’s public image with a long-term objective of increasing their chances of being elected to the House of Assembly.
And so, as nice as Mr Brangman is/was, I think he was generally found wanting in the political competency required to justify staying on in the Senate. To me it was just a matter of time before he was replaced – and while he may indeed have resigned, question marks will hover around whether he jumped knowing he was about to be pushed or was encouraged to resign.
As it is, I wish him well in his new role.
As for the question of why now, well, I kind of feel that with the fall-out from Jet Gate resignations and the ascension of Mr Dunkley to the Premiership, the OBA would have been mindful of both the need for stability and the need to avoid looking like a full-on UBP restoration. As such, I think the Premier was content to delay any major Senate or Cabinet changes until now.
With Mr Brangman’s resignation comes the inevitable question of who will replace him.
This is, of course, wholly the choice of the Premier (as regards a Government Senator). However, I think one can make some educated guesses all the same.
I imagine there are two likely options for the Premier:
- He will appoint a Senator from amongst some of the failed 2012 OBA election candidates;
- He will appoint the candidate from the upcoming by-election in constituency 33 in the event of her losing.
Of the failed 2012 election candidates, I’d imagine Nick Kempe (constituency 18) or Andrew Simmons (constituency 17) are the most likely contenders, or someone from another constituency that the OBA intends to target for the next election.
If appointing the candidate from the upcoming by-election, Georgia Marshall, I think it would be unlikely to see her appointed until after the by-election itself (appointing her earlier would be an admission of hopelessness of winning the seat). I’m not sure if there’s a statutory time period within which a vacant Senate seat needs to be filled however.
With the Throne Speech this Friday, and the first Senate sitting next Wednesday, I would imagine the Premier would like to fill the vacancy for Friday though, which makes me lean towards option one.
While the resignation of Mr Brangman provides the opportunity to fill his now vacant seat with a new face, it also offers the opportunity for wider change too.
The Premier may chose to replace additional Senators, for example. I think Senator Baron (the Premier’s Chief of Staff) is safe, as is Senator Fahy (holding several key ministerial positions that the Premier may not want to destablise). I’m less sure about Senator Swan and Senator Woolridge…
In addition to replacing Mr Brangman, and potentially other Senators, this also gives the Premier an excuse for a wider shake-up in terms of a Cabinet shuffle.
In many ways the Premier inherited his cabinet from his predecessor, albeit with some minor changes. The Premier may well decide that the time is right to put his own stamp on his Cabinet.
And then there’s a question of whether all this will affect the Opposition benches.
Mr Bean has retained the leadership of the Opposition, but may take this opportunity to also shake up his team, both in the Senate and the shadow cabinet. Having said that, I think the Opposition has quite a solid Senate team and I would be surprised if there’s changes there – although the recent move by Kim Swan to the PLP may mean the PLP might consider shifting Senator Ming, which will have some interesting connotations.
A shadow cabinet shuffle would be more likely than a Senate shake-up I reckon; however I don’t think the Opposition, if they even make any changes at all, will feel the need for any radical changes at this moment in time. Depending on the outcome of the upcoming by-election though, I can see the Opposition leader contemplating giving their candidate in #33 a shadow cabinet role.