Prime Minister Turnbull turns to those he trusts
The removalists at Parliament House will be back to work next week as the office reshuffle occurs around the latest Turnbull Government ministerial changes – the fourth since the Prime Minister was sworn in in late 2015. Turnbull has taken the opportunity presented by Sussan Ley’s resignation as Minister for Health to rejig his front bench and reward a number of those he trusts:
Greg Hunt MP – Minister for Health and Minister for Sport (formerly Industry, Innovation and Science).
Senator Arthur Sinodinos – Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science (formerly Cabinet Secretary).
Ken Wyatt AM MP – Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health (formerly Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care).
Michael Sukkar MP – Assistant Treasurer.
The role of Cabinet Secretary will return to its traditional home of being performed by a public servant within Prime Minister and Cabinet. Special Minister of State, Senator Scott Ryan, has also been appointed Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Cabinet.
Let’s hope all the Ministers read their new entitlements as part of their ministerial briefing packs – they certainly don’t want to be left in a moving box while the offices are unpacked.
Greg Hunt MP
Health runs through the family for Hunt with his mother and wife both nurses. Following a nine-year stint overseeing the environment portfolio, Turnbull has promoted Hunt to Industry, Innovation and Science and now Health and Sport. Speaking up for the health and aged care services of his local community in the face of an ageing population has been a continual theme during Hunt’s parliamentary career. He is a passionate advocate for preserving local services, and for private health insurance as a core pillar within Australia’s health system. A seasoned minister and communicator, his promotion will enable the Government to defend its record on health from the all-important Lower House.
Senator Arthur Sinodinos
Sinodinos’ promotion represents his return from the political wilderness. No one can deny Sinodinos’ political credibility, derived mainly from his nine years as former Prime Minister Howard’s Chief of Staff. Well connected, he is intelligent and hardworking and is a natural fit for the Industry and Innovation portfolio. However, Sinodinos will need to call on all his political selling skills to a portfolio that is struggling to capture the general public’s imagination. Innovation continues to be a dirty word around Canberra’s public servant drinking holes and Sinodinos will have to work hard to reinvigorate the Government’s messages, which so far have failed to capture the public’s imagination. It also appears the Turnbull is willing to take the risk that Sinodinos’ run-in with the NSW ICAC investigation will not come back to haunt them.
Ken Wyatt AM MP
Wyatt’s promotion to the Ministry is a testament to the passion that he has brought to the job and his delivery during his time as Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care. Wyatt has been implementing the Government’s reforms to aged care policy mostly under the radar and has earned considerable respect from stakeholders for his ability and commitment to listen and engage. His promotion will mean little on a day-to-day basis as it in essence formally recognises the delineation of policy responsibilities under Ley. With his promotion, Wyatt becomes the first Indigenous person to be appointed to the Federal Ministry.
Michael Sukkar MP
Sukkar is a member of the political class of 2013 elected to represent the Victorian seat of Deakin which at the time was Australia’s second most marginal seat. Sukkar is a modern conservative who is highly regarded by many within Liberal circles and his appointment will please many within the conservative ranks. A quick climb up the ministerial ranks is expected. The son of Lebanese and Norwegian migrants, Sukkar is a former lawyer who specialised in taxation. Questions remain how his responsibilities as Assistant Treasurer will be defined in respect to the current Minister for Financial Revenue (previously known as Assistant Treasurer), Kelly O’Dwyer.
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