Returned Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce announced his new ministerial line-up on Sunday, rewarding his supporters and dumping cabinet member Darren Chester.
Andrew Gee moves up into cabinet, replacing Mr Chester as Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel.
Mark Coulton was also dumped, losing his role as Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government.
Senator Bridget McKenzie will return to cabinet, less than 18 months after resigning during the sport rorts scandal, in the role of Minister for Regional Education, Regional Communications, Decentralisation, Drought and Emergency Management.
David Gillespie comes back to the frontbench as Minister for Regional Health, two years after being dumped in leadership squabbles.
Kevin Hogan takes on the portfolio Local Government and remains Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Michelle Landry remains Assistant Minister for Children and Families, but loses the role of Assistant Minister for Northern Australia. Senator Susan McDonald will take on those responsibilities as a special envoy for Northern Australia without being a member of the ministry.
Keith Pitt, currently Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, will move from the cabinet to the outer ministry.
Mr Joyce said the demotion was not a signal about a lack of importance of the resources to his government.
"Keith Pitt will remain over this portfolio like a bad suit. He's been doing a great job," Mr Joyce told reporters.
Asked to explain why Mr Chester was dumped from Veterans' Affairs on the eve of the veterans' suicide royal commission, Mr Joyce said Mr Gee, a former barrister, had the skills for the role.
"I don't believe it's a hot potato ... We're talking about hundreds of people taking their lives, so the issue is more important than any minister.
"[Mr Gee] is the sort of person that has the capacity to go through all the nuances of what is required and I think Andrew will do an exceptional job."
Departing veterans' affairs minister, Mr Chester, said he was humbled to hold the portfolio and indicated his intention to remain the MP for Gippsland.
He promised to continue to advocate that the majority of veterans will transition successfully to civilian life.
"The myth that all veterans are broken is damaging to their well-being and creates a vicious circle of despondency and desperation," Mr Chester said in a statement.
"As a grateful nation, we must support those who need our help but at the same time promote the many achievements of our veteran community."
He thanked all members of the Defence Force, current and former, for their service to the nation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the changes provide the strongest female representations in an Australian government cabinet on record.
"However, it is not just about the size of the female contingent in my cabinet but the skills and the experience they all bring to help us solve our nation's challenges," Mr Morrison said in a statement.
The reshuffle came as the political career of one of Mr Joyce's backers, Senator Sam McMahon, became terminal on Saturday after she lost her Country Liberal Party preselection battle for her Northern Territory Senate seat to Alice Spring deputy mayor Jacinta Price.
Mr Joyce said Ms Price was expect to sit in the Nationals' party room in Canberra, meaning the seat would not be lost to the Liberal party.
The proportion of its party room numbers is key to how many ministries the Nationals hold in the Coalition government with the Liberals.
Numbers are already under pressure, with at least one Nationals MP, Queensland's George Christensen, retiring at the election due by May 2022.
Ms McMahon said she respected the result of the ballot and thanked her supporters.
But she said she was disappointed with "political attacks" against her this week, referring to media reports suggesting she was drunk in the Senate chamber.
The senator said she had been diagnosed with severe hypertension on Thursday, with symptoms including fatigue, vertigo, and dizziness.
"I was unwell several times during the week, including on Tuesday night, and others have chosen to use that for political gain and to link events which should not have been linked," Senator McMahon wrote on Facebook.
"The media has allowed themselves to be manipulated."
She also said concerns raised earlier this week about a toxic culture in her office had already been dealt with.
"I find it disgraceful that a woman should be attacked by a man criticising her for allegedly being attacked by another man," Senator McMahon said.
"The logic of that escapes me and the media needs to consider the way it reports these matters."
She said she would continue on as an NT senator until the next federal election.
Mr Joyce was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development at a ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday.
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