PM displays his authority in cabinet reshuffle


Mr Morrison kept an expanded Cabinet of 22 ministers. The biggest demotion was that of the much-maligned Melissa Price, who was relieved of the Environment portfolio and demoted to the outer ministry with responsibility for Defence Industry.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield also went to the backbench but Mr Morrison announced he would soon be off to New York as Australia’s next ambassador to the United Nations. Similarly, Liberal Senator and former minister Arthur Sinodinos will replace Joe Hockey as Australia’s next ambassador to the United States at the end of this year.

Mr Morrison rejected any suggestion they were induced to leave.

“Both have been excellent Senators and were given a chance at the ministry but have chosen to take on these new and exciting roles,” he said.

While Ms Price was demoted, two women were catapulted into cabinet to maintain a record seven women for a government.

Sussan Ley, who was forced to stand down from Cabinet in 2017 over suspect travel claims, made a return with responsibility for Environment.

South Australian Senator Anne Ruston enters Cabinet as Minister for Families and Social Services.

However, that portfolio will no longer cover the NDIS, which Mr Morrison said was a scheme “very dear to my heart” and which he clearly wants fixed.

One of his closest party allies, Stuart Robert, moved from the outer ministry to cabinet to be Minister for the NDIS. Mr Robert was also given a new portfolio of Government Services which is based on a NSW model that aims to streamline government service delivery.

“This has been a very important reform in NSW and made dealing with government much easier and that is what we want,” Mr Morrison said.

“It is also about driving better use of information technology and apps that can give Australians better access to services they need.”

Others who backed Mr Morrison during the leadership upheaval were promoted or given expanded roles. These included Alex Hawke, Jason Wood, Ben Morton and Steve Irons.

Ken Wyatt has moved from aged care in the outer ministry into Cabinet to become the first indigenous Australian to hold the Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

Alan Tudge retained the Population portfolio but moved from the outer ministry to Cabinet, while Victorian Michael Sukkar, who was dumped to the backbench after last year’s leadership turmoil, was put back in the outer ministry with responsibility for Assistant Treasurer and Housing.

Victorian MP Tim Wilson, who led the nationwide committee inquiry that damaged Labor over its plans to end cash refunds for franking credits, was overlooked.

Victorian Senator Jane Hume was made a Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Superannuation, Financial Services and Fintech.

On Friday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told The Australian Financial Review he will commission an inquiry into retirement incomes. Mr Morrison would not say on Monday whether franking credits would be looked at as part of that inquiry.

The major positions inside the ministry were unchanged.

Josh Frydenberg (Treasury), Mathias Cormann (Finance), Marise Payne (Foreign Affairs), Peter Dutton (Home Affairs), Greg Hunt (Health), Dan Tehan (Education) and Linda Reynolds (Defence) were all locked in.

Simon Birmingham kept Trade despite a push by the Nationals to get back the portfolio taken from them in 2013.

The Nationals lost one position in cabinet and the remaining four had their duties diluted. While Matt Canavan kept Resources and leader Michael McCormack kept Infrastructure and Transport, David Littleproud had Agriculture removed from his list of portfolios so it could be given to Nationals Deputy Leader Bridget McKenzie, who wanted a bigger role.

As Mr Morrison stressed the need to get on with business, Labor should finalise its leadership line-up this week.

Victorian MP Clare O’Neil declared she was no longer a candidate for deputy leader meaning fellow Victorian Richard Marles will become deputy under Anthony Albanese.

Ms O’Neil did not have the numbers to take on Mr Marles. Her decision means the party is under pressure to have two female Senate leaders. While Penny Wong will be Labor Senate leader, Kristina Keneally is angling for the deputy leadership but must push aside Right faction powerbroker Don Farrell.

Ms O’Neil said Labor has to re-examine all its policies. “I think we need to step back and look at our platform. We brought the wrong platform to the election and we need to reconsider every aspect of it and have a really good look at why we got this one so badly wrong,” she said.

“We took a big unwieldy, risky policy agenda to the election and it was hard to explain and it was hard to defend and very easy to weaponise.”



Source link Finance News Australia

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