Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday named a new attorney general and promoted two junior lawmakers from rural Queensland state to his Cabinet in a reshuffle he hopes will bolster his flagging popularity.
Australian leaders often revamp Cabinets before the start of a new year, but for center-right Turnbull the move is an attempt to salvage his leadership, ravaged by dismal opinion polls.
Last month, Turnbull’s ruling Liberal-National coalition made its worst showing in a Queensland election in more than a decade, when it won 34 percent of the vote as Pauline Hanson’s populist One Nation clawed into its conservative base.
A large number of marginal seats in the nation’s third-most populous state of Queensland often give its voters a crucial say in deciding federal elections.
The reshuffle was sparked by the resignation of Attorney General George Brandis from the Senate. Turnbull said he would ask Brandis to be the nation’s next high commissioner, or ambassador, to the UK.
Turnbull gave Cabinet positions to Queenslanders John McVeigh (minister for regional development) and David Littleproud (minister for agriculture).
He dropped minister for infrastructure Darren Chester, from the urban state of Victoria, giving the portfolio to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, the leader of the Nationals, which features prominently in Queensland.
“It’s a ministry that showcases the depth of the Liberal and National team, with well-earned promotions for talented individuals, a number of young and upcoming MPs bringing new skills and energy to the front bench,” Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.
Asked why he removed Chester, Turnbull said his Cabinet had “to take into account matters of geography,” but did not elaborate.
The pitch to voters in the northeastern state of Queensland was obvious, said Stewart Jackson, a specialist in Australian politics at the University of Sydney.
“Everybody’s been spooked by One Nation,” Jackson said. “The emphasis will shift back towards Queensland where the National Party was traditionally strong.”
The overhaul also brings youth into a government that has narrowly retained its razor-thin majority in parliament after a constitutional crisis triggered a series of byelections.
Littleproud and McVeigh are 41 and 52 respectively. The new attorney general, minister for social services Christian Porter, from the iron ore-rich state of Western Australia, is 47.
Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash, who takes the expanded title of minister for jobs and innovation, and Nationals member Bridget McKenzie, who joins the Cabinet as minister for sport, rural health and regional communications, are also 47.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around