QUEENSLAND Liberal Steve Ciobo will take over as Federal trade minister from Andrew Robb and Victorian Nationals’ Darren Chester assumes the infrastructure and transport portfolios from Warren Truss, it was announced over the weekend.
Rockhampton-based Nationals Senator for Queensland Matt Canavan has also been named minister for Northern Australia.
Mr Joyce and Mr Canavan released the following statements following confirmation of the Cabinet changes.
Statement from the Leader of the Nationals, Barnaby Joyce:
First and foremost let me thank Warren Truss for being a leader without fault; history will no doubt judge Warren as one of the greats of our century-old party. Warren has left us in an extremely strong position and it is our job to build on that as we work with our Coalition colleagues during this election year and beyond to deliver for the people who we represent in rural and regional Australia.
After gauging the aspirations of my electorate and the wider community I have decided to retain the Agriculture and Water Resources portfolio. I believe the work that I have started with my department to turn around soft commodity prices, in implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the significant investments we are making in water infrastructure should continue. In my role as Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals I will of course be advocating on behalf of all regional Australians and across all areas of government.
Senator Fiona Nash, Deputy Leader of the Nationals, will take on a role in three key areas as Minister for Regional Development, Regional Communications and Rural Health. These are issues of vital importance to regional Australia. Improving outcomes for people living in our regions when it comes to mobile phone black spots, access to internet, health care as well as economic opportunities remains a priority for the Nationals. Having held senior leadership positions including as Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate since 2008, Fiona will also be the first female Nationals Minister in Federal Cabinet – an historic milestone for which I am extremely proud.
Senator Nigel Scullion, Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, will continue his passion for Indigenous Affairs. He has requested to stay in the portfolio that he loves and I believe Australia is very well served by his commitment and dedication to Australia’s First Peoples.
Darren Chester has been appointed Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and will become the fourth Nationals member of Cabinet. Darren has served with distinction as Assistant Minister for Defence since 2013 and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Regional Transport prior to this. I believe Darren has the capacity and vision to progress the many nation-building projects commenced under Warren Truss such as the Inland Rail and the Western Sydney Airport, as well as deliver on the substantial infrastructure agenda the Coalition is rolling out right across the nation.
Senator Matt Canavan has been appointed to the Outer Ministry as a dedicated Minister for Northern Australia. Being based in Rockhampton and as a former economist at the Productivity Commission, Matt not only understands but is well equipped to address the challenges facing Northern Australia. He will work closely with Josh Frydenberg as the senior portfolio Cabinet Minister.
Michael McCormack has been appointed Assistant Minister for Defence, taking over from Darren Chester. As someone who has army, air force and naval facilities in his own electorate of Riverina, Michael is a passionate advocate for our defence services and I am confident he will make a great contribution to this portfolio.
Keith Pitt as another Queenslander will be introduced into the Ministry as the Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister. Keith has extensive business and farming experience and will be a welcome addition to our ministerial team.
These are all portfolios that are important to the people of rural and regional Australia. The ministerial team we have unveiled today, coming from both the north and the south of our nation, and representing every National Party state and the Northern Territory, will ensure that the interests of all regional areas will be taken into account in government decision-making. This is a strong Nationals ministerial team with the skills, vision and experience to achieve the outcomes that our constituents demand, and we will all work hard for the betterment of our nation.
Statement from Senator Matt Canavan:
I am honoured to have been appointed as the Minister for Northern Australia by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
I am excited to be given responsibility for a key element of the Government’s economic agenda. I am also lucky to be gaining responsibility for an area where so much good work has been done, and a solid foundation for a new era of Northern Australian development is ready to be built upon.
I want to pay tribute to the work of Senator Ian Macdonald, Warren Entsch, Andrew Robb, Barnaby Joyce, Warren Truss and Tony Abbott for all of their vision that helped develop the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
There is still much to do and I look forward to working with Josh Frydenberg, the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, in helping Northern Australia live up to its enormous potential.
I have said before that our job is to create a kind of “Brisbane line in reverse”. I want an Australia where people want to move to north of the Tropic of Capricorn so they too can benefit from the huge opportunities that are here.
Doing this is important for our whole nation, not just the north. Further growth and development in Northern Australia will help grow the national economy as a whole, and take pressure off our congested capital cities.
I have “walked the walk” myself too, moving my Senate office and my family to Rockhampton. It is a great honour to now be able to represent the people of Northern Australia not just in the Senate but in the Ministry as well.
I also want to thank all of the people of Central Queensland that helped me get elected to the Senate and have supported me in my Senate term so far. I especially want to thank Michelle Landry, MP for Capricornia, also based in Rockhampton, who has given me enormous assistance and support.
Michelle constantly seeks new and positive ways to put Rocky on the map and I know she has been pushing for a Minister to be based in Rockhampton.
I look forward to working with all Australians to create more opportunity and prosperity throughout the north.
Sources: Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan