The return of Barnaby Joyce as leader of the Nationals has sparked a ministerial reshuffle, with some of his supporters set to be sworn in as new ministers on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the changes on Sunday, a week after Michael McCormack was ousted from his role as deputy prime minister and Nationals leader.
The changes will see Bridget McKenzie, a supporter of Joyce, return to the cabinet. McKenzie resigned from her role as agriculture minister in early 2020, after she was found to have breached ministerial standards by failing to disclose her membership of a gun club that received funding under the sports rorts grant program.
She will pick up the regionalisation, regional communications and regional education portfolios, as well as the drought and emergency management portfolios, which are currently held by David Littleproud.
Morrison said McKenzie would have ‘a clear focus on service delivery in regional Australia and be responsible for the continued work developing Australia’s disaster management capability’.
Andrew Gee, who is currently minister for decentralisation and regional education, and assistant minister for trade and investment, will also join the cabinet. He will take on the role of minister for veterans’ affairs and defence personnel, replacing McCormack supporter Darren Chester.
Resources, water and northern minister Keith Pitt will be moved to the outer ministry, with Littleproud to pick up the northern Australia portfolio. Outside of the formal executive, senator Susan McDonald will also take on the role of envoy for northern Australia.
The reshuffle will also see Mark Coulton lose his portfolios of regional health, regional communications and local government.
The new ministers include:
- Barnaby Joyce — infrastructure, transport and regional development.
- David Littleproud — agriculture and northern Australia.
- Bridget McKenzie — regionalisation, regional communications and regional education; drought and emergency management.
- Andrew Gee — veterans’ affairs and defence personnel.
- Keith Pitt — resources and water (outer ministry).
- David Gillespie — regional health; deputy leader of the house.
- Kevin Hogan — assistant minister to the deputy prime minister; assistant minister for local government.
- Michelle Landry — assistant minister for children and families.
Morrison thanked McCormack for his ‘selfless and dedicated service to Australia’, Chester and Pitt for ‘their strong contribution and service as members of the cabinet’, and Coulton for his ‘dedicated service’ in the ministry.
Morrison said he and his new deputy, Joyce, would continue the coalition’s partnership ‘based on shared values and a shared vision for building an even stronger Australia’.
“Our focus remains on two outcomes – protecting lives and protecting livelihoods, as we continue to combat COVID-19 and build on the economic recovery that has led to the creation of almost one million jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.