Australia gets “Prime Minister for Women” following Cabinet reshuffle
Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced a cabinet reshuffle and a new portfolio on women’s safety to address some of his administration’s problems.
The shuffle aims to prioritize the needs of Australian women, with five women being promoted, according to Morrison, and a “shock of what needs to be shaken up”. Seven of the coalition’s 23-strong cabinet are now women.
Other changes? Australia now has a “Prime Minister for Women” as stated by the Prime Minister – although he later changed that title to “Primary Minister for Women” and confirmed that the appearance would go to Senator Marise Payne.
However, it is unlikely that this quasi-promotion of Payne will inspire many, as she was almost completely absent on the important issues during her time as our “regular” Minister for Women – especially with regard to the cultural crisis that is currently plaguing Parliament also passed the past year during the pandemic.
Payne also refrained from speaking during last week’s 400-member coalition staff meeting, at which Prime Minister and Deputy Michael McCormack apologized to staff for the “absolute rubbish” they had to endure.
Senator Payne will (with Morrison) lead a new Cabinet task force on Gender Equality, Safety, Economic Security, Health and Wellbeing of Women. These include Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Treasury Secretary Simon Birmingham and all the women in the Ministry.
With that, Jane Hume will take over the new portfolio of women’s economic security held at the State Department, while Amanda Stoker will become Assistant Secretary of State for Women – which will raise some eyebrows given her strong pro-life stance.
Anne Ruston will take on an entirely new portfolio and, in addition to her role as Minister for Social Services, will become Minister for Women’s Safety. She also joins Morrison’s inner leadership.
Other changes include Senator Michaelia Cash becoming Attorney General and Minister of Labor Relations, replacing Christian Porter.
Karen Andrews will take over the home affairs portfolio, replacing Peter Dutton while replacing Linda Reynolds in defense.
Reynolds, who led a violent backlash over derogatory remarks about Brittany Higgins, remains in the cabinet but moves to the portfolio of government services and the NDIS.
While Melissa Price resumes her former cabinet position in the defense industry portfolio.
Porter, who is due to return to work Wednesday, also has a portfolio and is taking over Andrews’ previous role as director of industry, science and technology.
Morrison said all of these changes will help “provide an overview of the policy challenges we face and the policy development and implementation that need to be carried out”.
He said it offers an opportunity to put a “new lens” on his government’s agenda to achieve results for Australian women.
“These changes will shake up what needs to be shaken while maintaining the dynamism, continuity and stability that Australia needs,” he said.
Morrison described Senator Payne as “effectively the Prime Minister for Women” but reconsidered later when asked by a journalist during the press conference whether Australia’s actual Prime Minister should be the Prime Minister for Women (and whether Morrison was not fit to be) to be that person).
He said he should probably designate Senator Payne as “chief secretary for women,” noting that she is the head of a team that deals with various aspects of the women’s portfolio.