Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised a ‘government for the 21st Century’ as he presented his new ministry to be sworn in by the Governor General in Canberra today.
“A ministry whose composition and focus reflect our determination to ensure Australia seizes the opportunities at this the most exciting times in human history,” Mr Turnbull said.
Toddlers grizzled, babies slept and spouses and children beamed with pride as more than 28 changes to personnel and ministerial responsibilities were made official at the event.
Nine of the new ministers and assistant ministers, including five in Cabinet and the first ever female Defence Minister Senator Marisse Payne, are women.
The fresh female look was symbolised by the new Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer who strolled up to the Government House swearing in pushing a pram containing her new born baby.
The child had attracted the ire of the government whip last week for demanding to be fed during crucial parliamentary votes but she sucked on a red dummy and dozed in her father’s arms during the swearing in.
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston came unprepared for the fine print involved in her new role and had to borrow the Governor General’s glasses to read her spiel during the ceremony.
Minister for Cities and the Built Environment Jamie Briggs walked forward to be sworn in without assistance.
After revelries to mark the end of Mr Abbott’s leadership Mr Briggs was last week using a wheelchair.
He claims he injured his leg running and denies reports it happened during the party for the former prime minister.
Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Alex Hawke’s 14-month-old son Jack whose toddler boredom with the official event had been kept in check, vocalised his frustration just as his father stood up to be sworn in.
Josh Frydenberg came equipped wearing the Jewish Kippah.
Two minsters, Trade minister Andrew Robb and Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt, were absent from the ceremony, with both overseas.
Abbott loyalists who were granted new jobs in the fresh look Turnbull ministry yesterday praised the prime minister for keeping balance in his team.
Kelly O’Dwyer’s baby woke up on queue to pose in a photo with the new leadership team next to a clearly very clucky Foreign Minister Julie Bishop chucked the child’s cheeks and gooed.
The nine female members of the Turnbull team were photographed together.
After the photo shoot the new ministry retired to the sunny east lawn of government house for morning tea as Canberra turned on picture perfect Spring weather.
A group of Year six students from Penguin District School Tasmania got more than they bargained for out of their trip to Canberra when the Prime Minister invited them onto the steps of Government House for a picture after the swearing in.
The verdict: “that was pretty cool”said one of the students.
Mr Turnbull hit the airwaves early yesterday morning in his first round of interviews since becoming Prime Minister.
He acknowledged his predecessor Tony Abbott would be going through a “rotten time”.
“I know what its like to lose the leadership of the Liberal Party, its a tough business,” he told the Today Show in his first interview since becoming prime minister.
He said he wouldn’t pursue his dream of making Australia a republic until “after the end of the Queen’s reign” and said fixing the economy was higher on his political agenda.
Signalling he’s set to dump or change the government’s controversial policy to allow universities to set higher course fees he said the fact the current policy was blocked by the Senate meant it had been defeated by the “iron law of arithmetic”.
And he refused to accept that raising the GST was the only solution to the government’s revenue problem commenting that getting more women into the workforce, raising productivity and a range of other options were available to the government to raise the nation’s living standards.
Since becoming Prime Minster Mr Turnbull has been upbeat and positive and asked why he wasn’t talking about the “death cult” and threats to Australia’s security any more he said this question was a “straw man”.
Underlining the switch away from Mr Abbott’s focus on national security Mr Turnbull said he’d been briefed on the nation’s security challenges and we had “great agencies working to protect us”.
However, he said we were living in one of the most exciting times in human history with rapidly expanding opportunities across the world and he was excited about the future.