PM promises ‘women’s filter’ from his new cabinet
“These changes will shake up what needs to be shaken, while maintaining the momentum, continuity and stability that Australia needs as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.”
The ministerial reshuffle, the second in three months, was forced by the historic rape allegations against Christian Porter and the alleged rape of former Liberal aide Brittany Higgins who worked for Linda Reynolds.
These alleged incidents and their treatment have infuriated both women and men across the country and toppled both the government and the prime minister in opinion polls.
No new faces and no one fell
The reshuffle, which was larger than originally thought, also increases the number of women in the 23-person cabinet to seven.
Michaelia Cash became both Attorney General and Minister of Labor Relations, portfolios that belonged to the beleaguered Mr. Porter.
Karen Andrews has been added to the home affairs portfolio, replacing Peter Dutton, who replaces Senator Reynolds in Defense.
Melissa Price kept the defense industry on but moved back from the State Department to the Cabinet, which expanded from one to 23 members.
Mr. Porter remained in the Cabinet and took over Mrs. Andrews’ old industry, science and technology roles.
Senator Reynolds also remained in the Cabinet, taking over government services and NDIS from Stuart Robert, who in turn took over Senator Cash’s old jobs in employment, manpower, small and family businesses.
There are no new faces in the ministry and no one has been dropped.
A new “lens for gender equality”
In a major move, Mr Morrison established a new Cabinet task force jointly chaired by him and the Minister for Women, Marise Payne.
These will include all women in the Ministry, plus Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Treasury Secretary Simon Birmingham and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
To support Senator Payne, Cabinet Secretary Ann Ruston will join the government leadership group with the additional role of Secretary of State for Women’s Security.
Assistant Attorney General Amanda Stoker will also be named Assistant Secretary of State for Women, and Secretary of Pensions, Jane Hume, will take over the additional portfolio for women’s economic security.
Mr Morrison said Senator Payne was “effectively the Prime Minister for Women among her fellow women.”
Senator Payne, who has been criticized for not advocating women and women’s issues, said the new structure would ensure that there is a focus on economic security, security and leadership for women “at the center of government and at every single cabinet table is discussion “.
“If we put a lens on gender equality in the approach across the ministry, we can really focus on these issues across the government in ways that I’ve never seen before,” she said.
Questions keep coming up to Laming
Even as the government tried to draw a line on last month’s problems, Mr Morrison came under fire for not demanding the immediate resignation of Queensland backbencher Andrew Laming.
Over the weekend, Mr Laming announced he would take time out to deliberate and then drop out of politics in the next election after being accused of harassing and persecuting female voters.
Mr Albanese is urging Mr Morrison to compel him now and hold a by-election at the Bowman seat.
Mr Morrison, who lost his working majority in the House of Representatives when Craig Kelly defected last month, said Mr Laming had been punished enough.
“He said he wasn’t seeking re-election. This is no small part of the way to walk away from a career in politics that he has served his community for many, many years, ”said Morrison.
“He has been reflecting on the conversation he and I had over the weekend and I am delighted that he is taking this instruction in order to have that support to change his behavior and I believe we shall see that he better returning for that experience and I think he is better able to give his colleagues the assurances they are looking for and are rightly looking for.
“Our goal with all of these issues is to change behavior. Andrew said he wanted to change his behavior, so we want to help him do it. “
Mr Porter made clear his belief that he was innocent of the allegations made against him and that he had only stepped down as attorney general to avoid potential conflicts of interest while filing a defamation lawsuit against the ABC and its journalist, who first reported the Accusations.
“Accepting and understanding that starting a defamation case against the ABC now requires my replacement as attorney general, does not change the crucial principle that obliged me to start a defamation case,” he said.
“Given the ABC’s false claims about me, I had no choice but to initiate the defamation process, and I have no regrets that I took this course of action.
“The action brought by the Federal Supreme Court will make it possible to test the accuracy of the ABC’s allegations. I look forward to determining these questions in a procedurally fair process with actual rules of evidence. “