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Australian PM promotes women in cabinet reshuffle amid poll slump

In a move designed to regain voter support, Morrison said he would now have a record seven female lawmakers in his Cabinet as he awarded promotions and additional remits to five women.

By: Reuters | Canberra |
March 29, 2021 2:08:32 pm
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has struggled to placate public anger amid allegations of sexual abuse, discrimination against women and misconduct in parliament. (AP)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reshuffled his Cabinet on Monday as he sought to repair his standing following a series of damaging allegations about the mistreatment of female lawmakers and staff.

Morrison has struggled to placate public anger amid allegations of sexual abuse, discrimination against women and misconduct in parliament.

In a move designed to regain voter support, Morrison said he would now have a record seven female lawmakers in his Cabinet as he awarded promotions and additional remits to five women.

“I have always wanted to ensure there is a strong voice of women in my government, and there has been. But I think what we are announcing today has gone further than that,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. He added, “I have very capable women operating in very important portfolios.”

While promoting several female lawmakers, Morrison also moved two MPs who have been the subject of allegations. Both, however, remain in his Cabinet. Linda Reynolds would leave the role of defence minister and would be replaced by Peter Dutton, previously home affairs minister.

Reynolds has been criticised for her handling of an allegation of rape by a member of her staff two years ago.

Christian Porter will be replaced as attorney general and minister for industrial relations by Michaelia Cash, who was promoted from the role of minister for employment, skills and small business.

Porter is the subject of a historical rape allegation which he denies and is currently on mental health leave. Police said on March 2 there was insufficient evidence to investigate the alleged rape as the accuser was no longer alive.

A Newspoll conducted for The Australian newspaper on Monday showed Morrison’s public support dropped seven points in two weeks to 55%, the lowest level in a year.

Morrison’s government also trails opposition Labor on a two-party preferred basis, where votes for minor parties are distributed, by 52-48. If the poll result was replicated at an election, Labor would win.

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