Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, battling a slide in public support, reshuffled his Cabinet yesterday, promoting the overseer of a tough immigration program and throwing out his gaffe-prone defense minister.
Abbott said the shake-up was for jobs and families, and stressed a focus on financial issues as he deals with the fallout of an unpopular belt-tightening budget.
“It is a sign that this government wants the economy to be front and center in the coming year,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Abbott is nearing the end of his first full year in office hobbled by missteps and a souring economy.
Faced with a collapse in commodity prices and an unruly upper house Senate, that has held Abbott’s first budget hostage since May, voters have abandoned his conservative government more quickly than any other in three decades.
The elevation of Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to social services minister underscored the shift in priorities away from the secretive program of “turning back the boats” of thousands of asylum seekers that helped it win power a year ago.
That policy has been criticized by the UN, but Abbott lauded Morrison as “the master of difficult policy and administration” for almost entirely stemming the flow of boats over the past year.
“He is a very tough and competent political operator,” Abbott said of Morrison. “He’s also a very decent human being.”
Australian Defense Minister David Johnston lost his job in the reshuffle, which came a month after he embarrassed the government with comments critical of government-owned ship-builder ASC, saying he did not trust it to “build a canoe.”
The comment fueled expectations that most of the work in an A$40 billion ($US32.5 billion) submarine program would go offshore.
Reuters reported in September that Australia was leaning toward buying up to 12 off-the-shelf stealth submarines from Japan.
Morrison is to be replaced by Peter Dutton, a former police detective, in the new portfolio as minister for immigration and border protection. Johnston is to be replaced by Kevin Andrews.
Abbott also appointed a second woman, following criticism of a lack of female representation. Sussan Ley was promoted to minister for health and minister for sport, joining Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“All of our appointments are on merit,” Abbott said when asked if two women was enough. “As time goes by and the number of women in the parliament increases, I’m confident that there will be more.”
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”