Like all ministerial reshuffles, newly elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new ministry has some jury-rigging and visible seamwork; personalities and policy issues have been shoehorned in to the Prime Minister’s preferred arrangement. With this in mind, here’s a rundown of the ministerial appointments to watch closely in coming months.
A missing minister for women?
Marise Payne is the government’s most senior female minister, having retained Foreign Affairs — but she’s also, unusually, Minister for Women. While it is not uncommon for members of government to be given several portfolios, this is not usually the case for the massive foreign affairs portfolio.
So is the Minister for Women appointment an afterthought? This would be unfortunate considering there are now six other women in the new cabinet (what a change six years makes!). Alternatively, does this signal a renewed focus on women in Australia’s foreign aid program, including reproductive health?
Facebook posts on ‘multicultural affairs’
Victorian Liberal MP Jason “Orgasm” Wood is now the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs. It is an interesting appointment, to say the least, given Wood — a former police officer — has previously singled out the African-Australian community when discussing crime.
Wood has been accused of race-baiting and othering the African-Australian community in his discussions of “African gangs”. He has frequently highlighted race in discussion of crimes, including statements like “the Sudanese violent crime wave cannot be ignored” and “Africans have broken into people’s houses during home invasions, assaulted them with crowbars and baseball bats“. Wood’s Facebook page features photos of him at multicultural festivals, as well as various images of a faceless hooded person superimposed with red, bold statements like “carjacking warning” and captions detailing crimes committed by those of “African in appearance”.
The minister for young and old
Senator Richard Colbeck — the senate’s great survivor after Eric Abetz tried to kill off his career some years ago — is the new Minister for Youth. He is 61 years old. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just… you know. And, just to make it even more you know, Colbeck is also the Minister for Senior Australians and the Minister for Sport. We look forward to his contributions on issues confronting both demographics — like protecting wealthy retirees’ franking credits and property investments that are subsidised by young taxpayers, who have to cope with impossibly out-of-reach housing.
Is defence a dumping ground?
After promising to keep Melissa Price as Environment Minister during the election campaign, Morrison dumped her about as fast as his tax cut legislation promise. The West Australian has been dispatched into the role of Minister for Defence Industry where, presumably, her performance during the election campaign will see her leading the development of stealth technologies.
Price was looking for a “new challenge”, according to Morrison. As the portfolio with responsibility for Australia’s vast protectionist project to manufacture equipment to blow stuff up, Defence Industry was once an important portfolio held by Christopher Pyne (who made life hell for Marise Payne, then-Defence minister). These days, with first Steve Ciobo, and now The Invisible Woman, it seems to have become a dumping ground. Our tip: it will be reabsorbed into Defence, with a junior minister, in the next couple of years.
The abandoned, splintered jobs portfolio
The jobs and innovation portfolio has been abandoned, and has been splintered into two portfolios: employment, and industrial relations. The Attorney-General Christian Porter, when not busy prosecuting people for revealing government crimes, has picked up the portfolio of industrial relations. Tacking it onto the role of AG suggests it is an afterthought — although we should remember that in the Keating era, Laurie “Dangerman” Brereton held both Transport and IR and prosecuted major reforms to achieve enterprise bargaining in the role.
Michaelia “Chuckles” Cash is still the Minister for Small and Family Business, and has now had Minister for Employment added to her job.
Climate action from an anti-renewables crusader
Angus “watergate” Taylor is getting back the portfolio of emissions reduction after it was split from the portfolio when Morrison took over after the Turnbull spill.
For those who came in late, when Josh Frydenberg was originally appointed by Malcolm Turnbull to energy, he was given emissions reduction as well. After energy policy blew Turnbull up, Morrison ostentatiously split the two issues. Now they’re back together, presumably to enable Taylor to ensure Australia’s emissions continue to rise — Taylor has repeated the false claim that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 1%, despite the data from the environmental department showing there has been an increase by almost 1%.
The Climate Council, which is made up of leading scientists and climate experts, released a statement last year saying Taylor was living in an “alternative universe”. Possibly — but it’s one lots of voters, especially Queensland voters, occupy as well.
What appointments did you find most interesting today? Send your comments to [email protected]. Please include your full name.