Howard Ministry; Nelson To Defence; Nats Lose; Turnbull Tapped

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced changes to his ministry, moving Brendan Nelson from Education to Defence and promoting the Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, into Cabinet as Education Minister. The PM has also promoted Mal Brough from Assistant Treasurer into Cabinet to replace Kay Patterson as Minister for a revamped Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

The National Party’s De-Anne Kelly has been dropped from the Ministry and becomes a Parliamentary Secretary, as a result of yesterday’s defection of Nationals Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party. In a move that will cause further angst for the junior coalition partner, the Nationals lose a place in the ministry but gain an additional Parliamentary Secretary’s position. Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile remains Minister for Trade.

Other major positions in the government remain unchanged, with Peter Costello (Treasurer), Alexander Downer (Foreign Affairs), Tony Abbott (Health), Nick Minchin (Finance), Philip Ruddock (Attorney-General) and Kevin Andrews (Workplace Relations) all unchanged.

Senator Amanda Vanstone has had her wings clipped. She retains Immigration but loses Indigenous Affairs which goes to Mal Brough’s expanded Families portfolio.

Howard favourites have done well out of the reshuffle. Queenslander Peter Dutton is promoted from Workforce Participation to become Assistant Treasurer, whilst another Queenslander, Senator Santo Santoro, becomes Minister for Ageing. Victorian Sharman Stone moves into the Ministry, taking over Dutton’s portfolio of Workforce Participation.

In a sign of Howard continuing to toy with Peter Costello, Malcolm Turnbull becomes Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, with particular responsibility for Water. Victorian Andrew Robb, as expected, becomes a Parliamentary Secretary, taking up the position of Immigration & Multicultural Affairs.

In shifting Nelson to Defence, Howard has facilitated broader experience for a potential rival to Costello. By taking Turnbull under his wing, the Prime Minister will be able to mould another Costello rival. Significantly, Costello supporters Tony Smith, Christopher Pyne and Senator George Brandis have not been promoted.

Major appointments:

  • Leader of the Government in the Senate: Nick Minchin
  • Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate: Helen Coonan
  • Defence: Brendan Nelson

New members of Cabinet:

  • Families, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs: Mal Brough
  • Education & Training: Julie Bishop

New members of the Ministry:

  • Veterans Affairs: Bruce Billson
  • Special Minister of State: Gary Nairn
  • Ageing: Senator Santo Santoro
  • Workforce Participation: Sharman Stone

New Parliamentary Secretaries:

  • Bob Baldwin: Industry, Tourism & Resources
  • Andrew Robb: Immigration & Multicultural Affairs
  • Malcolm Turnbull: PM, with partcular responsibility for Water
  • Sussan Ley: Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry

Departing Ministers:

  • Defence: Senator Robert Hill
  • Fisheries, Forests & Conservation: Senator Ian McDonald
  • Family & Community Services: Senator Kay Patterson
  • Warren Entsch: Parliamentary Secretary
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