ScoMo reveals his “first and last chance” Ministry


Newly appointed Prime Minister Scott Morrison didn’t waste any time in announcing his first ministry late Sunday afternoon, less than 48 hours after being sworn in as our 30th Prime Minister. It’s a ministry to “restore stability to the Government”; one that promotes several ‘up and comers’, while leaving some instrumental players from last week’s coup out in the cold.

It’s also a ministry that in many ways plays to strength. One of the Coalition’s strongest performers, Mathias Cormann, retains the Finance portfolio and will be an experienced hand guiding Josh Frydenberg as Treasurer. Meanwhile, Greg Hunt will continue his good work in Health, but will be stretched by one less minister in the Health portfolio. Ken Wyatt is a well-liked minister in Aged Care and Indigenous Affairs and stays put. Christian Porter holds onto Attorney General.

The loss of Julie Bishop has forced changes in the Foreign Affairs Portfolio. Marise Payne is the incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs and now the most senior female member of Cabinet. Christopher Pyne switches from Defence Industries to Defence Minister, with Queenslander Steve Ciobo leaving the Trade portfolio for Defence Industries, a mere six months after Queensland won the $5 billion Land 400 armoured vehicle contract.

The Nationals have held onto the portfolios of Agriculture and Water Resources (David Littleproud leading the charge on the drought response); Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development (Deputy PM Michael McCormack); and Regional Services and Local Government (Bridget McKenzie).

It’s also a ministry that has a few subtle changes that show ScoMo’s hand. Peter Dutton has been forced to share the Home Affairs portfolio with two Morrison backers; David Coleman takes responsibility for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, and Linda Reynolds is the Assistant Minister.

The Energy and Environment portfolio will revert to being held by two Ministers, with conservative MP Angus Taylor the “Minister for getting electricity prices down” (Energy), while Melissa Price joins the Cabinet for the first time as Minister for Environment. Both ministers will sit in the Cabinet. Taylor was one of the vocal opponents to the Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) policy – which widely divided the Liberal Party and led to some of the furore moving into the leadership spill(s) of last week – so all eyes will be on what Taylor does in his new role.

Simon Birmingham – the architect of the school funding reforms – has been promoted to Trade, Tourism and Investment, leaving Victorian Dan Tehan to pick up the negotiations with the Catholic schools’ sector as the new Education Minister. Kelly O’Dwyer has been promoted to Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations with industrial relations reinstalled in the title, which may be a signal of what’s to come. She replaces Michaelia Cash who will hold Small Business, Skills and Vocational Education (a return of small business to the Cabinet).

There is no room in the ministry for Tony Abbott (unsurprisingly) or chief Dutton supporter, Michael Sukkar, who loses his Assistant Ministry role. While Nationals MP, Keith Pitt resigned over energy prices, Craig Laundy – a close supporter of the former PM – asked not to be considered. Interestingly, Barnaby Joyce has been tasked as a special envoy for drought assistance and recovery. The PM indicated that Tony Abbott could also have a similar job, but that has not been settled yet.

The Public Service will spend the coming days developing briefs for new ministers and urging action on key policies. After last week, the message from the PM is clear – it’s time to get back to business.

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