New Australian PM defends bold Cabinet reshuffle

Updated: 2015-09-21 10:14


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New Australian PM defends bold Cabinet reshuffle

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces his new federal cabinet during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, September 20, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

CANBERRA - Australian new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended selections in his refreshed cabinet on Monday after relieving several high-profile ministers of their positions in parliament.

Malcolm Turnbull revealed his new-look front bench on Sunday which featured 21 minister (up from 19), including a wave of younger MPs and five women. The new team was sworn in at 11 o' clock (Australian time) on Monday morning.

Turnbull said his fresh cabinet would be the cornerstone of a " 21st century government" and a "ministry for the future".

Joe Hockey was dumped as Treasurer for former Social Services Minister Scott Morrison. However, Hockey was not offered a cabinet position and tendered his resignation from Parliament following the announcement.

Turnbull cut senior ministers Tony Abbott, Hockey, Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and Employment Minister Eric Abetz, while appointed Australia's first female Defence Minister in Marise Payne.

Also included in the reshuffle was Michaelia Cash, now Employment Minister, and Kelly O'Dwyer as Small Business Minister.

Cash replaces Bruce Billson, while Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson were also relieved of their positions.

Not all Abbott-backers were cut from the cabinet. However. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton retained his role despite speculation he would stand down, while Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Trade Minister Andrew Robb were rewarded for their good work.

On Monday, Turnbull rejected claims that those who helped oust Abbott were given a leg-up into a cabinet role.

"No-one could suggest that this Cabinet, this ministry has been assembled on any basis other than merit," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday.

"It's very tough to make those calls but that's what leaders have to do. You have to have turnover and renewal."

Other changes to the ministry include Mitch Fifield winning the role of Communications Minister, taking over from Turnbull, and Simon Birmingham as Education Minister.

Meanwhile, Australia's youngest MP, Wyatt Roy, was rewarded for his loyalty to Turnbull and promoted to Assistant Minister for Innovation.

The cabinet reshuffle coincides with a two-week break from parliament, allowing Turnbull's new ministry time to settle into their new roles.