Turnbull reveals Cabinet reshuffle after Ley scandal

Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull Kevin Farmer

GREG Hunt will take over the government's health portfolio following Sussan Ley's expenses scandal.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday Mr Hunt was ideally suited to take on the important portfolio of health and sport.

"He has strong policy, analytical and communication skills, developed over a very long front bench career.

"During his time as the Environment Minister, he demonstrated an ability to grapple with extremely complex policy issues and engage a very diverse range of stakeholders and interest groups, including State and Territory governments," Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Hunt, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science has been in the Liberal Party since 1994 and was first elected to parliament in 2001 as the member for Flinders in Victoria.

Mr Hunt, who hails from Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, was environment minister from September 2013 before taking on the industry, innovation and science portfolio after last year's election.

VISIT: Environment Minister Greg Hunt (L), LNP candidate for Fairfax Ted O'Brien and State Member for Buderim Steve Dickson.
VISIT: Environment Minister Greg Hunt (L), LNP candidate for Fairfax Ted O'Brien and State Member for Buderim Steve Dickson. Sophie Meixner

As industry minister he took a close interest in biomedical research, nuclear medicine and medical technology.

The prime minister also revealed on Wednesday that Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos would take over Mr Hunt's role as industry minister. However a wider ministerial reshuffle is off the agenda.

"There is one vacancy," Mr Turnbull told 4BC radio on Tuesday.

Ken Wyatt, who has been the assistant Minister for Health and aged care will become the Minister for Aged Care and the Minister for Indigenous Health. Michael Sukar will be appointed as assistant minister to the Treasurer.

The role of cabinet secretary returns to the public service, reducing the size of cabinet by one.

"These changes will further strengthen my ministry by combining experience and new talent. It is a team that is focused on delivering for all Australians," Mr Turnbull said on Wednesday.

"This is a very strong ministry. It was the cabinet, as you know, and the ministry was sworn in about six months ago.

These changes are the consequence of the resignation of Sussan Ley, but it is - these are - this is not a large reshuffle, as you can see. It is - we have a very strong team and it is one that is performing outstandingly for the Australian people.

"I am always delighted to take the opportunity, however, to advance new talent and that is what I have done today. I do have to say that I have an extraordinary range of talent on the backbench in my party room.

"I have a lot of talent - I have more ministerial talent in party room than I have places in the ministry. That presents some challenges but, from a Prime Minister's point of view, it is a good problem to have."

Mr Turnbull was asked if he was reducing the number of women in his ministry but he refuted the suggestion.

"I have appointed more women to my cabinet than any previous Coalition leader. I am very committed to having strong representation of women in the ministry. I have demonstrated that by my actions," he said.

Amid speculation Senator Sinodinos would take on the health role, Labor had stepped up its attack on the former chief of staff to John Howard.

With the Labor Party claiming Senator Sinodinos is "dodgy", Mr Turnbull said Labor needed to look at it's own performance.

Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday it would be wrong to "recycle" Senator Sinodinos while there were questions arising from a NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.

"The only reason Malcolm Turnbull is having a reshuffle is because one of his government ministers was mistreating the expenses system and making Australians really angry at all politicians," Mr Shorten said.

"What Malcolm Turnbull should be doing today is not recycling the dodgy Senator Sinodinos ... he should, instead, be focusing on policies which help promote and maintain Australian jobs."

Mr Turnbull said Mr Shorten was seeking to distract from the failings of his own team.

The prime minister has declined to release the advice he received from an independent review of Ms Ley's travel expenses, which included a trip to the Gold Coast during which she bought an apartment.

However an independent watchdog will oversee politicians' expenses with new rules, including monthly declarations, being brought in mid-year.

Ms Ley stepped down as Health Minister last week after it was revealed she took expensive private flights between Australian capital cities and bought a property in Queensland while on a taxpayer-funded trip.

On Wednesday, Mr Turnbull said government had to spend every dollar of taxpayers' money with even more care than they spent our own.

After Ms Ley resigned, Mr Turnbull announced an independent body would be formed to look into the spending of parliamentarians.

- with AAP

Topics:  editors picks expenses greg hunt malcolm turnbull susan ley

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