Australian PM Reshuffles Federal Cabinet After Two Resignations

February 6, 2020 Updated: February 7, 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday announced a reshuffle of the Federal cabinet after two senior ministers resigned.

Darren Chester, the minister for veterans and defense personnel from Victoria, will maintain his position but be promoted to a Cabinet post.

Keith Pitt, a member of Parliament from Queensland, will move from the backbench to be Australia’s minister for mining and resources and northern Australia. He will also be the new water minister.

Pitt takes the mining and resources and Northern Australia portfolios from Nationals senator Matthew Canavan, and the water portfolio from Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud.

Canavan quit the Cabinet on Tuesday, relinquishing his oversight over mining and resources and northern Australia as a gesture of support for Barnaby Joyce. Joyce failed in challenging rival Michael McCormack as the leader of the National Party—the junior partner in Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition government.

Deputy Prime Minister McCormack, the leader of the Nationals party, will continue his role as minister for infrastructure and transport.

Littleproud, who is a newly-elected deputy of the Nationals party, previously oversaw agriculture in 2017-2019 and will regain that portfolio, replacing former Nationals deputy Bridget McKenzie.

McKenzie resigned from her role as minister of agriculture on Sunday after an investigation found she breached ministerial standards in failing to declare she was a member of a shooting club before awarding it a $36,000 community sporting grant.

Littleproud will also continue in his role as drought and emergency management minister, but his water portfolio was transferred to Pitt.

Australia’s resource sector welcomed the appointment of Pitt.

“Keith Pitt has a reputation for straight-talking, and as a regional Queenslander, he knows first-hand about the importance of the resources sector to create jobs and investment in regional communities,” said Ian Macfarlane, chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council in an emailed statement, Reuters reported.

“He also has a strong understanding of the policy issues that relate to the resources sector, in particular, the need for affordable and reliable energy.”

McCormack says that Pitt’s and Chester’s promotions to the Cabinet show the Morrison government’s commitment to northern Australia and defense forces veterans, The Australian reported.

Reuters contributed to this report

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy