Nationals do most of the swearing at new Cabinet swearing-in

Senator McGauran: has since given the finger to his own side National Party MPs have protested the loss of another ministerial post, disrupting the new Cabinet’s swearing-in with a chorus of obscenities.

The protest was led by Nationals Leader Mark Vaile, who, after swearing allegiance to the Queen audibly added, “But the Liberal Party can go fuck itself”.

The Nationals’ loss occurred after Senator Julian McGauran defected, saying he felt he could ignore the interests of rural and regional Australians better as a member of the Liberal Party. Mr Vaile denounced the Senator’s decision, saying the Nationals track record for disappointing country Australians is second to none.

The McGauran defection has prompted a debate between those who think it may mark the beginning of the end for the Nationals and those who think the party’s end began a long time ago. Like most debates involving the Nationals, it has been ignored by the majority of Australians.

The latest Cabinet reshuffle, however, has sparked more interest. The promotion of Brendan Nelson to Defence has caused concern in Washington because of his record of implementing user-pays principles as Education Minister. “America wants to keep using the Australian military without paying,” Secretary of State Rice explained.

Dr Nelson replaces Robert Hill, who retired last week to focus on pretending he isn’t going to be appointed Australian Ambassador to the United Nations. Mr Hill has refused to speculate about his possible appointment as Ambassador, saying “Peter Reith told me to wait and see what offers I get from defence contractors before taking the free trip to New York.”