WHEN it comes to a hard day at the office, no Premier in the country can say it with the conviction of Tasmania’s Will Hodgman.
Following the Government’s recent reshuffle, Premier Hodgman now has the mammoth task of juggling five portfolios, in addition to running the state.
He is the most overburdened Premier by a long shot, and possibly runs more portfolios than any other Australian MP.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW’s Gladys Berejiklian find the singular task of being Premier easily enough to fill their working day.
Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk and South Australia’s Jay Weatherill have only added Minister for the Arts to their job list, which probably guarantees a flow of invitations to great events.
Only in Western Australia does Marc McGowan hold three portfolios — Public Sector Management, State Development and Federal-State relations — all of which are arguably the responsibility of a Premier anyway.
Back in Tasmania, our overworked Premier’s seven Cabinet colleagues aren’t short of work either. They share 20 portfolios.
Yet curiously, in the Liberal team of elected MPs, there are seven others without ministerial responsibility.
Why do Premiers in other states elect to steer the ship, while in Tasmania our Premier wants to steer the ship, wash the decks and cook the meals?
Not only is our Premier stretched thinly over five portfolios, he will have an election to fight in coming months, by all accounts a tough one.
You have to ask whether we are getting the best value for money under this scenario.
You have to also question how the Premier could possibly be strategising and fearlessly leading all of his departments, or whether the department secretaries and other bureaucrats are simply calling the shots and running their own shows.
This can happen when the captain has his hands off the wheel.
For the record, Mr Hodgman, who earns about $300,000 as Premier (less than some of Tasmania’s senior bureaucrats) is also the AttorneyGeneral, Minister for Tourism, Hospitality and Events, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Heritage.
His workload increased, as did that of other Liberal MPs, when Matthew Groom recently relinquished his multiple portfolios, and Vanessa Goodwin left the political scene due to ill health.
Mr Hodgman took on the Attorney-General role from Mr Groom, who had stepped in some months earlier for Dr Goodwin. The heavy workload of Mr Groom, who was also the Minister for State Growth, Energy, Environment and Parks, has been divvied up between existing ministers.
Mr Groom’s workload and the toll it took on home life was a factor in him dropping all portfolios and retreating to the backbench. He will quit politics at the next election due to family reasons.
Mr Hodgman’s Cabinet includes deputy Jeremy Rockliff with three ministries, former Speaker Elise Archer (4), Michael Ferguson (3), Peter Gut- wein (3), Guy Barnett (3), Rene Hidding (2) and Jacquie Petrusma (2).
Some suggest Mr Hodgman had an eye on the upcoming election when he chose not to spread ministries any further than Elise Archer in his recent reshuffle.
The theory is he wanted the ship to appear stable and not throw rookie ministers into the fire of an election campaign.
So who are these elected Liberals who warm the back benches and are not required for ministerial duties, while their colleagues down the front are stretched with multiple portfolios?
There’s Marc Shelton (Lyons) who has been in the House seven years. He is a farmer, former mechanic, former mayor of Meander Valley and a small-business owner. He had four shadow ministries when in opposition, but didn’t