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Australia PM Defends New Cabinet

Posted: Sep 22, 2015 at 12:55 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to defend his cabinet on the day they are sworn in at Government House in Canberra.

Several supporters of former PM Tony Abbott were dropped and some new Members of Parliament with no cabinet experience added.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and some local media said Mr. Turnbull had only rewarded his supporters.

The new team has five women, including Marise Payne as the country’s first female defence minister.

Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, the new prime minister said he had chosen his cabinet entirely on merit.

“It is vital to have a contemporary, 21st-century government and that requires renewal,” Mr. Turnbull told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“There are people who’ve been promoted to the cabinet who did not support me in the recent ballot, there are several very dear old friends of mine who have offered to stand down and I accepted that in order to make room for others,” he said.

Mr. Shorten criticised the lack of ministers for disability, housing and mental health as well as the new line-up.

“I think this is a sign that we still have more division and dysfunction and Australians don’t want to see anymore division and dysfunction in their government,” Mr. Shorten said on Sunday.

Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, who has replaced Kevin Andrews as Defence Minister, will have to deliver a major defence plan within weeks.

Senator Payne has held several senior positions in the Liberal Party and was Minister for Human Services in Mr. Abbott’s government.

She was a member of a range of legislative and policy committees, including powerful legal and national security committees.

The portfolio for Employment and Women moves to Michaelia Cash while Kelly O’Dwyer has been promoted to Assistant Treasurer and Small Business Minister.

Julie Bishop retains the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Sussan Ley her Health and Sport portfolio.

Mr. Abbott, who lost the leadership to Mr Turnbull in a Liberal Party ballot last week, has returned to the backbench, along with former his strong supporter Treasurer Joe Hockey.

In a much anticipated move, former Social Security Minister Scott Morrison is the new Treasurer.

The new ministry line-up also includes 25-year old MP Wyatt Roy from Queensland, who will become Assistant Minister for Innovation.

West Australian and former health bureaucrat Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives, has become Australia’s first Indigenous Australian frontbencher, as Assistant Minister for Health.

Mr. Turnbull confirmed he will move into the prime ministerial residence in Canberra, known as the Lodge.