Australian PM Scott Morrison unveils new-look cabinet, Julie Bishop resigns as foreign minister

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: REUTERS

CANBERRA, 27 AUGUST 2018 (THE AUSTRALIAN/NEWS.COM.AU) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has appointed Angus Taylor as Energy Minister and Marise Payne as Foreign Minister as he unveiled a “next generation” cabinet team that has kept Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce on the backbench.

“Angus Taylor has an incredible background working outside of this place and inside this place to solve complex and difficult problems,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as he unveiled his first ministry at a press conference in Canberra late on Sunday.

Peter Dutton will remain with the Home Affairs role but will lose the immigration part of the portfolio, with David Coleman to be Immigration Minister.

Mitch Fifield, who quit the cabinet last week, returns to communications, and while Greg Hunt retains health.

Alex Hawke has was promoted to Special Minister of State and Kelly O’Dwyer has been given the jobs and industrial relations portfolio, in a move that elevates IR into cabinet.

Dan Tehan will be the new Education Minister and be charged with fixing the government’s feud with the Catholic schools sector. Simon Birmingham will move from the education portfolio to trade.

Christopher Pyne will be the Defence Minister while Steven Ciobo is Defence Industry Minister.

Mathias Cormann will stay Finance Minister and Senate leader, despite losing the special minister of state portfolio.

WA MP Melissa Price has been promoted to cabinet as Environment Minister, while Paul Fletcher has been elevated to cabinet as Social Services Minister.

Stuart Robert, Michelle Landry, Andrew Broad and David Fawcett have been promoted to the outer ministry.

Karen Andrews is minister for industry, science and technology. Michaelia Cash moves to small business, skills and vocational training. Nationals assistant minister Keith Pitt also quit the front bench. New Liberal party deputy leader Josh Frydenberg has already been sworn in as treasurer.

The Prime Minister said Joyce had been given a special role of a Special Envoy to Drought Assistance and Recovery.

He said he would a similar offer role to Abbott.

Craig Laundy, John McVeigh and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells will move to the backbench.

“These roles, I think, provide an opportunity for those who have served at senior levels in the past and continue to make any constructive contribution. I look forward to continuing to engage with Abbott on how he can play a role in those areas, but I fully respect his right to look at these issues as he sees fit,” Morrison said.

The team will be sworn in on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Julie Bishop’s resignation as Foreign Affairs Minister has been followed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement of his new cabinet.

Morrison paid tribute toBishop for her work in foreign affairs.

Bishop resigned after a leaked WhatsApp thread revealed MPs were actively encouraging colleagues not to vote for her in Friday’s leadership ballot.

Bishop said in a statement said that she will remain on the back bench “as a strong voice for Western Australia”.

Announcing her resignation from cabinet, Bishop said she had made no decisions as to whether she would remain in parliament following the next election.

Ousted prime minister Turnbull tweeted about his former deputy, referring to her as “Australia’s finest Foreign Minister” and a role model for women.

The shock move follows Bishop receiving only 11 votes from her Liberal Party colleagues when she up her hand to become prime minister on Friday, and a damning leak that could explain why.

A WhatsApp thread between senior Liberal MPs, broadcast on ABC’s Insiders, showed Bishop was a victim of cruel tactics.

The messages appear to show politicians were encouraged not to vote for Bishop in the party room ballot even if they wanted to.

Leaked screenshots from the group titled “friends for stability” allege Mathias Cormann, whose support of Peter Dutton was pivotal in securing the leadership spill, had secured votes for Bishop in order to keep Scott Morrison out of the race.

But the conversation between Morrison supporters shows politicians were encouraged to vote for Morrison over Bishop in the first round.

“Cormann rumoured to be putting some WA voted behind Julie Bishop in round 1,” a message purporting to be from Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher broadcast on Insiders read.

“Be aware that this is a ruse trying to get her ahead of Morrison so he drops out and his votes to Dutton.

“Despite our hearts tugging us to Julie we need to vote with our heads for Scott in round one.”

Participants in the thread expressed some concern for the Foreign Minister, with one suggesting “Someone should tell Julie”.

A message apparently sent by Christopher Pyne read: “I have.”

“Very respectfully,” he added.

Bishop was knocked out in the first round of voting in what was a three-way battle for the leadership between her, Morrison and Dutton.

She received only 11 votes in the first round, including from ousted prime minister Turnbull. None of the votes came from West Australians.

Insiders host Barrie Cassidy, who revealed the messages, said Ms Bishop was “entitled to be embarrassed and angry”.

“In the end, she was a victim of tactics and I suppose that helps to explain why she’s less than impressed with her colleagues,” he said.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham, whose name was on the WhatsApp thread, told Cassidy Bishop was “the most significant woman in the history of the Liberal Party”.

“We would love to see Julie continue, but that really is up to Julie,” he said. “We will all respect whatever decision she makes.”

On Friday, after the ballot, journalist Shannon Molloy wrote Julie Bishop “should feel robbed”.

Cassidy said Bishop was poised to quit the front bench. “I think that I can say, that unless somebody is very persuasive in the next few hours, I think she’ll be calling a news conference and she will quit as Minister for Foreign Affairs,” he said.

Bishop, 62, also stood down as deputy leader of the Liberal party, reportedly telling colleagues before the vote she refused to be “another man’s deputy”.

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