New Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull has appointed several women to his cabinet in a reshuffle aimed at healing party divisions after the ouster of Tony Abbott. But a number of portfolios remained unchanged.
Liberal Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday announced a new cabinet following the ouster of Tony Abbott almost a week ago in an internal party vote.
The reshuffle sees five women taking or retaining key portfolios. Among other things, Maris Payne has been appointed as the country's first-ever female defense minister, taking over from Kevin Andrews, and Michaelia Cash has received the job of Employment Minister, replacing Eric Abetz.
Abbott had just two women in his Cabinet, and had faced much criticism for policies seen as disadvantaging women, including cutting funds to shelters and domestic violence programs.
In a major change, Treasurer Joe Hockey was relegated to the back bench, with former Social Services Minister Scott Morrison moving into the breach.
Turnbull said the widely unpopular Hockey would leave politics.
Turnbull also gave important roles to some of his main supporters, with Arthur Sinodinos receiving the job of cabinet secretary, a post that gives considerable influence within the government, and Scott Ryan becoming his assistant.
However, a key Abbott faithful, Peter Dutton, will retain his job as immigration minister.
Other senior posts also remained unchanged, including the foreign ministry, which stays in the hands of Julie Bishop, and the environment ministry, with Greg Hunt still in command.
The new cabinet is expected to be sworn in on Monday.
Winds of change?
Turnbull after Abbott was dumped last Monday following a term in office characterized by a series of gaffes and perceived policy missteps.
Unlike Abbott, he supports same-sex marriage and action on climate change.
A millionaire former investment banker, Turnbull also enjoys considerable popularity in the business community and wider electorate, but is regarded with considerable misgivings by some right-wing members of his ruling coalition.
The Liberal Party and its junior coalition partner the National Party won a landslide victory in 2013 elections under Abbott on pledges to restore stability after the previous Labor government showed a marked propensity for infighting and internal division.
The next elections are expected next year.
tj/rc (Reuters, dpa)