As the dust settles on Monday night’s leadership change, rumours are circulating about who will make it into Malcolm Turnbull’s first cabinet.
It’s been reported that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton offered his resignation to Turnbull via text message (no confirmation on whether it will be accepted), and that Michaelia Cash could be moved into the troubled Immigration portfolio. Joe Hockey’s name has been floated for Turnbull’s former turf of Communications, as Josh Taylor reports today.
Both Hockey and Defence Minister Kevin Andrews (who backed Tony Abbott in the spill) held press conferences earlier to suggest business as usual and that they were getting on with the job. Both events were tinged with an air of desperation.
The new PM has a unique opportunity this week to refresh the Coalition frontbench, which has remained mostly unchanged since 2009.
It’s time to bring forward a new generation of talent and remove the non-performers of the Howard years — Dutton, Andrews and Employment Minister Eric Abetz all need to go. Trade Minister Andrew Robb is a strong performer and should stay. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has been the best of the new generation, and deserves a promotion to a more frontline portfolio. Hockey should be bumped from Treasury in favour of Scott Morrison, as has been widely speculated. The next Australian treasurer faces a huge task ahead, and Morrison has shown he’s up to the job.
As well, Turnbull has a chance this week to design a cabinet that is more representative of the Australian population — including, most obviously, more women. In a media event this morning, the PM said there was “no greater enthusiast than me for seeing more women in positions of power and influence in the Parliament”. We’ll be sure to hold him to that.