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Defence and energy key focus for Turnbull

Politics

Malcolm Turnbull's new ministry has officially been sworn in, with the Prime Minister making defence industry jobs, a better approach to health, and connecting energy and climate policies his priorities in the post-election cabinet re-shuffle.

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Just over a fortnight since the Coalition scraped home in the federal election, Turnbull’s new-look frontbench was presented to the Governor-General this morning at Government House in Canberra.

The 23-member cabinet – the largest since 1975 – was unveiled yesterday.

With the Government planning $195 billion in investment in ships and other assets over the next decade, senior South Australian Liberal and former innovation minister Christopher Pyne has been made Defence Industry Minister.

Pyne – who was also appointed Leader of the House – will not only oversee the massive spending program but spearhead the Coalition’s fight to retake seats in SA and other defence-heavy states.

The newest cabinet minister is Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan, who takes on the resources and northern Australia portfolio.

“We will be judged in 2019 by the Australian people as to whether we have delivered on the plans and the programs and the investments that we have promised,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

The Prime Minister decided not to shift his Health Minister Sussan Ley, despite taking damage from the Medicare issue at the election.

Instead, he said his government would focus on mental health, home-based care and building a better working relationship with doctors to deliver a “first-class universal health system”.

Victorian MP Josh Frydenberg’s shift from resources to a new environment and energy portfolio has been welcomed as an opportunity to integrate climate and energy policy.

Turnbull sees new jobs and investment in the renewable energy sector, and will need a better policy than the existing “direct action” to meet new global emissions targets.

The ministers will get their first big test when parliament starts on August 30.

The Prime Minister said his priorities for the first sitting of the 45th parliament would be passing three industrial bills – to restore the building watchdog, impose tough penalties for union corruption and protect volunteers.

However, budget repair would be “front of mind” for the entire term, he said.

The Nationals, having added to their numbers at the election, gained not only a cabinet post but an extra minister with NSW MP Michael McCormack picking up the small business portfolio and David Gillespie given an assistant minister role.

The former small business minister Kelly O’Dwyer has been given a new title of revenue and financial services minister.

Greg Hunt shifts from environment to take over Pyne’s portfolio of industry, science and innovation.

In a concession to conservative forces, ACT senator Zed Seselja was promoted from the backbench to assistant minister for social services and multicultural affairs.

However, former prime minister Tony Abbott remains on the back bench.

Turnbull thanked former frontbench colleagues Peter Hendy and Wyatt Roy who lost their seats at the election.

Tasmanian senator Richard Colbeck, who appears likely to lose his seat and was not reappointed to the ministry, said he was “extremely disappointed” to have to relinquish his job.

But he agreed with the need to finalise the new team quickly.

-AAP

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