Aussie PM names Cabinet, with most posts unchanged

He notes significant agenda for govt to deliver; key focus now to win approval for $151b in tax cuts

SYDNEY • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison named his new Cabinet yesterday, with most positions staying the same, saying the government had "a significant agenda" to deliver and that it was time to get back to business.

"I have high expectations of my ministry and clear goals for each of their roles," he said in a statement.

Incoming Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, who served in the army reserves for almost three decades and rose to the rank of brigadier, replaces Mr Christopher Pyne, who has retired.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne retains her position, as do Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, Energy Minister Angus Taylor and Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Mr Morrison also created a national agency for indigenous Australians which will report directly to new Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal Cabinet minister.

The Sydney Morning Herald said Mr Morrison vowed to improve the way Australians interact with the government on everything ranging from tax to social services.

He named Mr Stuart Robert as Minister for Government Services and placed him in charge of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in the most significant new post in the reshuffle.

 
 
 

Mr Morrison emphasised his objectives of improving existing services, creating a new agency called Services Australia and meeting a target to roll out the NDIS to 500,000 people over the next five years, the Herald reported.

He said he intends to recommend Mr Arthur Sinodinos, a senator from New South Wales, for the post of ambassador to the United States, replacing Mr Joe Hockey.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield will be Australia's representative to the United Nations.

A key focus for Mr Morrison is trying to win parliamentary approval for A$158 billion (S$151 billion) in tax cuts. The re-elected Liberal-National coalition wants to deliver the tax cuts by July 1 - a cornerstone of its election campaign - as the central bank has called for stimulus to aid a slowing economy.

Mr Morrison had entered this month's election at the head of a minority government after a series of defections, unable to pursue its legislative agenda without the support of independent lawmakers and minor parties.

But a surprise victory secured the coalition an outright majority, removing the legislative uncertainty. Official counting has not yet been completed, with three seats still in doubt, but the Electoral Commission said Mr Morrison's coalition leads with an outright majority of 78 seats in the Lower House of Parliament, which has 151 elected lawmakers.

The opposition Labor Party is expected to win 67 seats and there are six crossbenchers made up of minor parties and independents.

The Cabinet will be sworn in on Wednesday. But Parliament will not resume until after all counting is done and the writs are returned - which is expected by June 28.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2019, with the headline 'Aussie PM names Cabinet, with most posts unchanged'. Print Edition | Subscribe