Scott Morrison's reshuffled ministry is deliberately humdrum

It says everything about Scott Morrison and his reborn government that the big theme of his new ministry is deliberately humdrum.

While Labor promised vast reform at the federal election, the Coalition offered more of the same with a pledge to keep improving. And it won.

The result is a new ministry that is all about management rather than bold new agendas, about keeping existing programs under control before embarking on any new ones.

Expectations are high for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the delivery has already been marked by anger and disappointment when people miss out on the services they need. Stuart Robert has a significant challenge in fixing this.


The National Broadband Network has infuriated some of its customers with cumbersome roll-outs and problems with speed. Paul Fletcher, who wrote a book about broadband policy, has his work cut out.


The Coalition has made few commitments in social services, and has no plan to increase Newstart, but this is an area where delivery is a constant challenge and failures make headlines. Anne Ruston moves into cabinet with a substantial task ahead as Minister for Families and Social Services.

Liberals are already jostling to replace two senators, Arthur Sinodinos and Mitch Fifield, who will take up diplomatic posts. A push is under way in Victoria to give that state's upper house position to Sarah Henderson, who lost her seat of Corangamite at the election. Senator Jim Molan is being named as a potential candidate if he loses his seat in the ongoing count from the May 18 election.

Those who helped Morrison ascend to the leadership last August gain positions in this ministry, but not to an extent that is disproportionate. Robert is one. Two others, Steve Irons and Ben Morton, serve at assistant minister level.

A fourth, Alex Hawke, takes on a dual responsibility for defence and foreign aid, with an emphasis on the Pacific. It is an interesting strategic appointment given the expansion of Chinese influence.

Some of those who supported Peter Dutton last August keep their positions or gain bigger roles. Alan Tudge is promoted to cabinet, while Greg Hunt and Angus Taylor stay in their portfolios. Taylor gains responsibility for emissions reduction as well as energy. Michael Sukkar becomes Assistant Treasurer, an important role.

The biggest loser from this reshuffle, Melissa Price, suffers from being a poor advocate in the environment portfolio. Morrison was under no pressure to admit he made a mistake with her appointment last year, but he bit the bullet.

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Importantly, he promoted Ruston and Sussan Ley to ensure there were still seven women in cabinet.

Also important is his decision to name Nola Marino and Jane Hume as assistant ministers. This does not fix all the Liberal Party's troubles in recruiting and promoting women, but it is another step forward.