Popular Victorian member returns to Cabinet
Newly installed Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and settled on minimal changes to the ministerial lineup.
Darren Chester, who has been a member of the House of Representatives for Gippsland in Victoria, representing the Nationals since 2008, will be returned to Cabinet as Minister for Veteran Affairs.
Mr Chester was controversially dropped by Mr Joyce last December.
According to theage.com.au:
His removal from cabinet poisoned the relationship with Mr Joyce and saw Mr Chester refuse a consolation prize of an outer-ministry, opting instead to return to the backbench.
BREAKING: No changes to cabinet. Darren Chester gets Veterans Affairs. Keith Pitt and Mark Coulton into the assistant ministry ranks. Damian Drum and Luke Hartsuyker out— David Speers (@David_Speers) March 1, 2018
EARLIER: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a cabinet reshuffle creating two new portfolios and replacing several outgoing Ministers.
One of those Minister's is Darren Chester, who has been a member of the House of Representatives for Gippsland in Victoria, representing the Nationals since 2008.
PM Turnbull: "And, you know, that's... Look, I have to say Darren has been an outstanding minister. I regret the, um, that this has resulted in him no longer being a member of the ministry".— James Massola (@jamesmassola) December 19, 2017
Harsh if federal transport minister Darren Chester is dumped from frontbench. Will also cost Victoria a rare friend in Turnbull cabinet.— Adam Carey (@adamlcarey) December 18, 2017
Attorney-General George Brandis will become Australia’s high commissioner to London in a ministerial reshuffle set to be announced on Tuesday.
Brandis’ appointment opens the way for Malcolm Turnbull to elevate deputy Senate leader Mathias Cormann to Senate leader, and gives the Turnbull a cabinet vacancy.
The Nationals, who appear confident of holding their five cabinet spots despite losing a parliamentary seat to the Liberals, now find themselves with an excess of Victorians in cabinet.
New deputy, Bridget McKenzie, is from Victoria, as is existing cabinet member Darren Chester.
The party has only four federal MPs from that state.
It is speculated that Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, who is agriculture minister, will move to Chester’s infrastructure portfolio in the changes.
The reshuffle also is likely to see the return of former health minister Sussan Ley, who resigned after allegations of the misuse of travel entitlements, which she denied. Turnbull wants to promote women and personally likes Ley.
The reshuffle comes as the government is behind Labor in the 25th consecutive Newspoll. The ALP leads 53-47% on a two-party basis, unchanged from the previous poll.
Turnbull said recently he regretted referring to Tony Abbott losing 30 consecutive Newspolls when he launched his 2015 challenge against the former prime minister.
Abbott replied that he will respond to this Turnbull statement of regret, but he wanted to leave it until after Saturday’s Bennelong byelection.