BOB LAWRENCE, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
There is only a minor reshuffle in the new Cabinet announced today. All existing Cabinet Ministers retain that status.
In selecting a Ministry Malcolm Turnbull had other parameters to keep front-of-mind than the usual balance of numbers between States and the two houses of parliament.
- The Nationals position was strengthened by lifting their number to 22 from 21 (by winning Murray from the Liberals after Sharman Stone’s retirement). Under the unreleased Coalition Agreement, the Nationals have gained two front bench positions, including one in cabinet.
- The Liberals in New South Wales and Tasmania performed very poorly and the Liberals also dropped two seats in South Australia. There was pressure to bring in Tony Abbott. Mr Turnbull did not do this, opted instead for appeasement through intergenerational transfer of roles to younger conservatives.
- Mr Turnbull’s task was eased by the automatic vacancies from seat losses (notably Assistant Ministers Wyatt Roy and Peter Hendy) while Tourism Minister Senator Richard Colbeck remains in doubt and could not be allocated a portfolio at this time. Tasmania is not represented in the Ministry.
The only new face in cabinet is Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan BEc (Hons) BA as Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, previously being just the low ranking Minister for Northern Australia.
Before entering Parliament, Senator Canavan was a Senior Research Economist with the Productivity Commission (2003-08), then joined KPMG (2008-09) before taking a role as Director of the Productivity Commission (2009-10) and then becoming Chief of Staff to Senator Barnaby Joyce (2010-13).
Mr Turnbull has controversially merged two seemingly opposing portfolios by making Josh Frydenberg the Minister for the Environment and Energy.
Former Environment Minister, Greg Hunt will move to Industry, Innovation and Science as Christopher Pyne has been appointed to the new role of Minister for Defence Industry, which reflects the major submarine build underway in his home state of South Australia and the need to integrate the defence investment program launched with the 2016 Defence White paper.
The Deputy Nationals Leader Senator Fiona Nash adds Local Government and Territories to her Regional Development role, while Kelly O’Dwyer’s title will change to Minister for Revenue and Financial Services.
O’Dwyer’s former Small Business portfolio has been moved out of Cabinet, which may cause concerns.
Paul Fletcher will become the Minister for Urban Infrastructure, where he will prioritise the Western Sydney Airport.
One of the younger conservatives, Senator Scott Ryan, will become Special Minister of State in the Finance portfolio (a jump from the junior Vocational Education and skills portfolio).
Prior to entering Parliament Senator Ryan was a tutor in Political Science at the University of Melbourne 1998-99, before working for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (1999) and then in the staff of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition (Vic.) 2000-02. He joined GlaxoSmithKline Australia (2002-07) before joining the Institute of Public Affairs 2007-08 as a Research Fellow.
Former diplomat, Dan Tehan (Wannon, Victoria), will become the Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security, in conjunction with his ongoing role as Minister for Veterans Affairs. He was a Senior Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister (2005-06) and then Chief of Staff to the Minister for Small Business and Tourism in 2006-07. After the Howard Government fell he became Director of Trade Policy and International Affairs at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2007-08) before taking the role of Deputy State Director of the Victorian Liberal Party (2008-09) and then entering Parliament.
The former assistant Minister for Defence Michael McCormack will become the Minister for Small Business, as a junior Minster to Treasurer, Scott Morrison. Prior to his parliamentary service, he was editor of the Wagga newspaper The Daily Advertiser.
There are three new appointments as Assistant Ministers:
- Luke Hartsuyker (Cowper NSW, Nationals) will be Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister;
- Senator Zed Seselja (Liberal, ACT) – the former Parliamentary Leader, Canberra Liberals 2007-13 – will be Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs;
- Dr David Gillespie (Lyne NSW Nationals) will be Assistant Minister for Rural Health
- Karen Andrews (Liberal, McPherson QLD) will become the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills.
- Alex Hawke (Liberal Mitchell, NSW) will become the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection,
- Keith Pitt (Hinkler QLD, Nationals) will become the Assistant Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism.
- Craig Laundy (Liberal, Reid NSW) will become the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.