Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dramatically reshaped his frontbench in a reshuffle that promotes his own supporters and those who backed Tony Abbott, puts his government on an election footing, and promotes three new faces to cabinet, including another woman.
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Malcolm Turnbull announces 'dynamic' ministry
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces the results of a ministerial reshuffle, to feature six women in cabinet, in the wake of several retirements and resignations. Courtesy ABC News 24.
Another five new junior ministers and five assistant ministers were also appointed and will have no more than six months to get across their briefs before an election.
The changes comes after a difficult fortnight in Parliament which saw the Turnbull government under pressure over tax reform and the retirements of senior minister Andrew Robb and Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Warren Truss.
Mr Turnbull was forced to reshape his front bench after losing five ministers since taking charge in September.
In addition to Mr Truss and Mr Robb, former cities minister Jamie Briggs was sacked in December over an incident in a bar in Hong Kong, former human services minister Stuart Robert was sacked last week over a breach of ministerial standards and former special minister of state Mal Brough, who resigned earlier on Saturday.
Nationals MP Fiona Nash, her party's new deputy leader and first woman to hold the job, Victorian Nationals MP Darren Chester and Queensland Liberal Steve Ciobo are the biggest winners of the shake up, moving into the cabinet.
The reshuffle injects more youth into the cabinet — Mr Ciobo is 23 years younger than Mr Robb and Mr Chester is 18 years younger than Mr Truss — and sees the promotion of many new faces in the junior ministerial ranks.
NSW gains an extra position in a cabinet that grows from 21 to 22 people, Victoria has gained an additional three members of the outer ministry and while Queensland has lost an outer ministry, it picked up two new assistant ministers.
Ms Nash will be Minister for Rural Health, Regional Communications and, importantly, Regional Development, overseeing the stronger regions fund that has at least $200 million.
Mr Chester becomes Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Mr Ciobo becomes Trade Minister, on the recommendation of Mr Robb — who becomes special envoy for trade between now and the election.
Announcing the reshuffle, Mr Turnbull said his new team was "dynamic" and combined youth, new talent, experience, and sense of innovation and enterprise.
The Prime Minister noted that there are now "six women in the cabinet, 10 in the executive, and both deputy leaders of the Liberal and the National Party are women for the first time in the Coalition's history".
He paid tribute to Mr Robb and Mr Truss, said he did not "anticipate" any further changes to his front bench and dismissed suggestions it was embarrassing to have to reshuffle so soon after becoming Prime Minister.
"They have left us, their talents are immense, but what it has underlined to me and this has been the hardest part of my work, since then is the enormous talent we have in our party room," Mr Turnbull said.
"Change offers opportunity, the loss of Andrew and Warren in particular is a loss, but there comes a time when you need to transition from older leadership to newer leadership."
"Turn over, change, is good…this is a revitalised government and it is revitalised because of new blood coming in."
Barnaby Joyce, the new Nationals leader, retains Agriculture and Water portfolios, while Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will keep the Special Minister of State job he had been acting in for Mr Brough.
Scott Ryan has been promoted to Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, while Alan Tudge becomes Minister for Human Services, and Dan Tehan becomes Defence Materiel and Veterans Services Minister.
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells becomes Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Nationals senator Matt Canavan becomes Minister for Northern Australia
In the ranks of the assistant ministers, formerly called parliamentary secretaries, Keith Pitt becomes Assistant Minister to Mr Joyce, Craig Laundy becomes Assistant Multicultural Affairs Minister, Jane Prentice the Assistant Minister for Disability Services.
In addition, rising star Angus Taylor becomes Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, with special responsibly for cities and digital transformation. Peter Hendy has become the Assistant Minister for Finance and Assistant Cabinet Secretary, James McGrath will work as Assistant Minister for Immigration.
Earlier on Saturday Mal Brough, who who stood aside from the ministry last December because of his involvement in the James Ashby/Peter Slipper affair, resigned.
Mr Brough said he was disappointed to stand down but did not expect the AFP investigation into the matter would finish for several more months and that it was not appropriate for the two portfolios to be left open. He again denied any wrong doing.
"Portfolios should not be left open, it was generous of the Prime Minister to allow me to step aside when I asked but now is the right time given that the police have informed me that it is going to take so much longer than anyone could have anticipated," he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the cabinet was in "chaos" and asked, since Mr Turnbull was elected "what's happened? What has he actually done?"
"We know that he's [had] 13 or 14 ministers down over the last 6 months. We know there are brand new people into major cabinet portfolios and expecting them to get up to speed by the time of the budget. That is diabolical for the budget preparation and what we see is a divided government," he said.
The swearing in of the new ministry will take place at Government House in Canberra on Thursday.