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Details of Howard Government’s Ministerial Changes

Changes to the Howard Government’s ministerial arrangements were announced today. They follow the departures over the past week of Senators Hill, Patterson and McDonald.

The changes were announced by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at a press conference in Canberra this afternoon.

The changes see the National Party lose one ministerial position as a result of yesterday’s defection of Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party.

Major ministerial positions are unchanged, with the exception of Brendan Nelson’s shift to Defence. His current Education portfolio will be taken by Julie Bishop.

  • Listen to Howard’s Press Conference (34m)

This is the text of a media statement from the Prime Minister, John Howard.


Earlier today I called on His Excellency the Governor-General and secured his approval to announce the following changes to the Ministry and the Administrative Arrangements Order. The changes to the Ministerial line-up reflect the depth of talent available to the Coalition and leave the Government well placed to pursue its fourth term agenda.

The changes include two promotions into Cabinet, four new appointments to the outer Ministry and four new parliamentary secretary appointments.

I reiterate my appreciation to Senators Hill, Patterson and Macdonald for their contributions to the Government. As a result of Senator Hill’s resignation I have decided to appoint Senator the Hon Nick Minchin Leader of the Government in the Senate. The new Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate will be Senator the Hon Helen Coonan.

The Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination will be moved to the Family and Community Services (FACS) portfolio because of the potential synergies with other FACS programmes. The portfolio will be renamed Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the current portfolio of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs will be renamed Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

The Hon Mal Brough MP will become Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. He will also become Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

The Hon John Cobb MP will become Minister for Community Services in this newly expanded portfolio.

The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP will become Minister for Defence. His previous portfolio, Education Science and Training will be taken by the Hon Julie Bishop MP, who will also become Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues. Senator Santo Santoro becomes the new Minister for Ageing.

The Hon Bruce Billson MP will become Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence. I thank the Hon De-Anne Kelly MP for her work in this portfolio over the past year. Mrs Kelly will be appointed Parliamentary Secretary (Trade).

The Hon Peter Dutton MP becomes the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer. He will be replaced as Minister for Workforce Participation by the Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP.

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz will become Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation. The Hon Gary Nairn MP will become Special Minister of State.

Mr Malcolm Turnbull MP will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with particular responsibility for water policy.

Mr Andrew Robb MP will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration.

The Hon Sussan Ley MP will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The Hon Teresa Gambaro MP will become Parliamentary Secretary (Foreign Affairs).

Senator the Hon Sandy Macdonald will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.

In the light of the possibility of his retirement at the next election, the Hon Warren Entsch MP has asked that he stand down as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources. I wish to thank Mr Entsch for his contribution in that position over recent years. He will be replaced by Mr Bob Baldwin MP.

The swearing-in ceremony will be on 27 January 2006.

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