Morrison Adds Seventh Woman to Cabinet

By AAP
March 4, 2019 Updated: March 4, 2019

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has added a record seventh woman to his cabinet after two senior Liberals announced they will leave parliament at the May federal election.

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne announced on Mar. 2 he will quit after 26 years in parliament, while Defence Industry Minister Steve Ciobo will go after 17 years.

“In both of their cases, of course, if they wished to continue I would have welcomed that,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.

“The personalities will change from time to time. But it is what you are doing that matters.”

Emergency Management Minister Linda Reynolds has been promoted to Ciobo’s role, and she will replace Pyne as defence minister if the coalition wins the next election.

Senator Reynolds’ elevation makes her the seventh woman in Morrison’s cabinet, overtaking the record of six women under the Rudd and Turnbull governments.

“To every woman in the Liberal Party today … you don’t need to be a quota. If you are good enough, you can get in,” Senator Reynolds told reporters.

Pyne said he wanted to retire when people were asking him to stay, rather than trying to get rid of him.

“I’m not leaving with regret or bitterness, nor have I been forced out of office in some hideous scandal,” he told reporters in Adelaide.

“I’m not going into the tomb, I intend to be around in politics, in South Australia in particular, for a long time to come.”

Ciobo said he did not have a job lined up, but it was time to leave parliament after 17 years, three of which he spent on the road as trade minister.

“Federal politics is anti family, full stop. Don’t let anyone ever pretend otherwise,” he told Sky News.

Record Seven Women in Federal Cabinet

A full third of all the women in the coalition party room are now in Scott Morrison’s federal cabinet after he added a record seventh woman to the government’s inner circle.

“This now makes our cabinet the strongest level of female representation in the history of federation, and that is something that I would intend to continue should we be elected at the election in May,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.

Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull had six women in their cabinets.

Senator Reynolds, who was a brigadier in the Australian Army, will also become Defence Minister if the coalition wins the next election.

“I have been appointed not because of my gender but because of my experience, and we have got many other women who equally are capable, and what the prime minister has done is demonstrated to them that they too can succeed because they have the talent.”

There are currently 21 women in the coalition party roomseven are now in cabinet, five others hold ministry or administrative positions, and two are former ministers.

But at least eight of those 21 women are retiring at the next election or face losing their seats.

Morrison praised the pre-selection of a number of women candidates in Victoria and Tasmania, including the choice of Dr. Katie Allen to replace the outgoing Kelly O’Dwyer.

Ciobo told Sky News he would like a woman to replace him in his safe Liberal seat of Moncrieff on the Gold Coast.

“I would love for it to be a women, I think there are some terrific women around who are interested in running for the seat,” Ciobo said.

Ciobo said he did not have a job lined up, but it was time to leave parliament after 17 years.

“I always believed politics was a means and not an end,” he told reporters on the Gold Coast.

Pyne said he wanted to retire when people were asking him to stay, rather than trying to get rid of him.

“I’m not leaving with regret or bitterness, nor have I been forced out of office in some hideous scandal,” he told reporters in Adelaide.

“I’m not going into the tomb, I intend to be around in politics, in South Australia in particular, for a long time to come.”

The prime minister has already lost frontbenchers Kelly O’Dwyer, Michael Keenan and Nigel Scullion, who will retire from parliament at the May poll.

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop, who turned down a role in Morrison’s cabinet, will also retire in May, while another senior Liberal, Craig Laundy, is said to be preparing to quit politics.

Morrison said the personalities might change but his government would continue its approach to the economy and national security.

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