Prime Minister Turnbull announces cabinet reshuffle

Published: 19 December 2017


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a cabinet reshuffle for 2018, with five new members appointed and two new cabinet positions introduced.

Michaelia Cash – whose staffer recently admitted tipping off media over AFP raids on Australian Workers’ Union offices – and current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will head two new cabinet positions, created with the aim of “keeping Australians safe and ensuring their prosperity,” according to Mr Turnbull.

“The two agendas go hand in hand,” the Prime Minister said, labelling the portfolios as “new and reinvigorated, designed to encourage enterprise.”

Ms Cash will head the new Jobs and Innovation portfolio as part of the government’s economic team, while Mr Dutton will lead the new Home Affairs Department which will oversee Australia’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester has been dumped from the cabinet, and replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who will take both portfolios, including assuming responsibility for the government’s dam policy.

“He will ensure that projects will be delivered on time and on budget and that every community from the cities to the regions is getting its share of a program designed to improve people’s lives,” Mr Turnbull said.

“His contribution to the cabinet and the coalition is fundamental,” he added, addressing the Deputy Prime Minister’s recent return to Parliament.

Mr Joyce’s own Agriculture portfolio will be taken over by first-term Nationals backbencher David Littleproud, who the PM said will bring two decades of experience in agribusiness.

The new Nationals Deputy Bridget McKenzie will take the Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications portfolios, and Liberal Dan Tehan will become the new Minister for Social Services.

The Social Services portfolio is currently held by Christian Porter, who Mr Turnbull announced will be promoted to the role of Attorney-General, after confirming George Brandis will be stepping down from his Senate roles.

In his address, Prime Minister Turnbull thanked Senator Brandis for his “17 years of distinguished service to the Senate,” and said he would be recommending him as the UK High Commissioner.

“Senator Brandis has been a stalwart of this Government in the Senate,” he said, “particularly in the past couple of years given the difficulties of negotiating with a large and, at times, unpredictable crossbench.”

The PM said Mr Brandis’ legacy as Attorney-General will be remembered in particular for his efforts in bringing about same-sex marriage legislation and compressive reforms of national security laws.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will now become the Leader of the Senate.

“Mathias’ expanded portfolio is testament to his outstanding performance as Cabinet Minister,” Mr Turnbull said.

“And he is ideally qualified for this important work, given his work on historic reforms to politicians’ entitlements and foreign donations.”

Other ministers who will be joining cabinet in the New Year include current Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who will take on the Human Services portfolio and assist the PM in the Digital Transformation portfolio, and Queenslander John McVeigh, who will take on Regional Development.

Kelly O’Dwyer will become Minister for Women.

The PM announced Senator Arthur Sinidinos will not return to cabinet in 2018 due to medical issues.

Addressing the removal of Darren Chester from Cabinet, Mr Turnbull said he consulted closely with Nationals Leader Mr Joyce, who he said could answer directly for that decision. He said “geography” had to be taken into account.

“I have to say, Darren has been an outstanding minister, I regret that this has resulted in him no longer being a member of the ministry," Mr Turnbull said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten responded to the reshuffle shortly after it was announced, labelling Government “out of touch” and slamming the decision to demote Mr Chester.

“Yet again the needs of ordinary Australians have been forgotten,” Mr Shorten said.

Parliament will return in the new year.