PM shuns Wong Senate rebuff
It is a bad look when Julia Gillard doesn't back one of her senior cabinet ministers.
That's what is unfolding today following the shock result for Finance Minister Penny Wong in the ballot for the Labor Party's South Australian Senate ticket for the next election.
Despite her high profile, Wong has been dumped to second spot on the ticket, behind the little known Don Farrell.
Not only is this a snub to Wong, but there is another factor that makes this not a good result for the Prime Minister.
Farrell was one of the "faceless men" who organised the coup to topple Kevin Rudd from the prime ministership, and hand the job to his then deputy, Gillard.
(Debate about that coup is being revived by Maxine McKew's book Tales From The Political Trenches.)
Voters could be thinking that another supreme exercise in numbers counting and factional muscle has occurred in Adelaide.
The Opposition is pouncing on the episode to claim "some people in Labor have a problem with capable women", mimicking the government's attacks on Tony Abbott.
Wong remains in a winning position on the ticket, but her Left colleague Anthony Albanese is threatening to have the pre-selection overturned by the ALP national executive.
That would entail more embarrassment and claims of heavy-handed intervention.
Meanwhile, Gillard seems determined not to buy into the row, avoiding any comment during a media blitz this morning to sell her Australia in the Asian Century white paper.
With Parliament resuming today for the penultimate week of the full sittings for this year, the Opposition is expected to try to embarrass the government about the "tainted vote" of Craig Thomson, following the police raids on his home and office last week.
But Labor has two decisions to highlight – the Asian century paper and the Murray-Darling Basin plan.
And a new mood should take hold in tomorrow's caucus meeting given the latest poll, which now has the government and the Opposition neck and neck, a remarkable recovery for Labor.