December 18, 2017, 10:05 PM EST Updated on December 18, 2017, 11:07 PM EST
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a new Cabinet team, seeking to rejuvenate his beleaguered government and capitalize on renewed momentum going into the new year.
The revamp will see Attorney-General George Brandis be replaced by Christian Porter, Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. Michaelia Cash became minister for jobs and innovation, while Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce took responsibility for infrastructure and transport instead of agriculture.
The reshuffle may help Turnbull, 63, present a fresh face for his government in 2018 after a tough year dominated by distractions and internal divisions that have sapped focus from his stuttering policy agenda. An improved performance in recent weeks may give his Liberal-National coalition room to push ahead with a plan to cut personal income taxes.
Turnbull’s coalition has trailed its main Labor rival in opinion polls all year, leading to unease among some of his lawmakers. A dual-nationality fiasco stripped his government of its one-seat majority in October, and last month he was forced to backtrack and announce a probe into alleged abuses in the banking industry.
Still, this month has been better. Wins in special elections have restored his majority, his government shepherded through legislation to legalize same-sex marriage and a budget update on Monday showed it’s on track for a narrower deficit this fiscal year thanks to a surge in taxes from corporate profits. Parliament is now in a two-month hiatus over the Australian summer break.
“We’ve had a lot of difficult issues to deal with this year,” Turnbull said. “What we’re now focusing on resolutely is keeping Australia safe and ensuring their prosperity.”
Other portfolio changes include:
- Brandis retires from politics to become Australia’s High Commissioner in the U.K.
- John McVeigh becomes minister for regional development, territories and local government
- Kelly O’Dwyer becomes minister for women
- Bridget McKenzie becomes minister for sport, rural health and regional communications
- Michael Keenan moves from justice to human services
- Arthur Sinodinos leaves cabinet due to health reasons
- David Littleproud becomes minister for agriculture and water