PM announces Canberra shake up: Record number of women in cabinet roles

Mar 29, 2021
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled his new cabinet. Source: Getty

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the details of the ministerial reshuffle, with Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds both dumped from their senior ministerial positions and switched to other cabinet roles.

The changes will see the strongest ever female representation in an Australian Government Cabinet and include a new cabinet taskforce regarding women’s equality, women’s safety, and health and wellbeing.

It will be co-chaired by Marise Payne and Morrison, with all female members of his cabinet, and the treasurer, deputy prime minister and minister for finance. Morrison described Payne’s new role as the “Prime Minister for Women”.

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Morrison said the changes “will shake up what needs to be shaken up,” and provide the “stability that Australia needs [to] emerge from Covid and recession”.

“Getting these results for Australian women will be achieved through collaboration, it will be achieved through listening, through acting together and coming together to deal with these very serious and significant issues,” he said.

Senator Payne said: “Bringing a gender equality lens, if you like, to the whole-of-ministry approach enables us to really focus in on those issues right across government in a way that I have never seen before.”

Under the new structure, Porter will leave his post as attorney-general and step into the role of Minister for Industry Science and Technology. Michaelia Cash has been announced as the new attorney-general and Minister for Industrial Relations.

Reynolds will move from the defence portfolio to take over the Government Services National Disability Insurance (NDIS) Scheme. Peter Dutton will be the new Minister for Defence and the Leader of the House.

Karen Andrews was announced as the new Minister for Home Affairs (Dutton’s previous post), with the prime minister describing her as “a woman of great talent, experience and practicality”.

The cabinet will be expanded by one, with Melissa Price retaining her previous Defence Industry portfolio. Meanwhile, Jane Hume will be the Minister for Women’s Economic Security and Anne Ruston the Minister for Women’s Safety.

Morrison revealed there would be no changes to the Treasury, Finance, Health and Social Services.

Morrison said the changes were made to ensure the Federal Government prioritised “achieving the outcomes and results for Australian woman”. The reshuffle is the second in just four months and follows weeks of scandals and reports of sexual misconduct in Canberra’s highest echelons.

The Prime Minister said he sought advice from the solicitor-general prior to making the decision to move Porter, who launched defamation action against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan earlier this month over a Four Corners story that alleged he raped a woman in the 1980s. The move will allow Porter to remain in the Cabinet while he pursues legal action.

“This fully addresses all the issues relate to the advice received from the solicitor-general, as well as the Prime Minister and Cabinet regarding the ministerial guidelines,” he said. “He’s a very capable minister and I’m sure he’ll apply his talents to that portfolio to the best of his abilities.”

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