Morrison Reshuffles Cabinet After Resignations Within Coalition

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(Bloomberg) --

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shuffled key Cabinet portfolios, appointing new ministers to lead resources and agriculture after scandals and squabbles within his government’s junior coalition partner triggered two resignations.

Keith Pitt was promoted to resources minister while David Littleproud will take on the agriculture portfolio, Morrison said in Canberra on Thursday.

Morrison, 51, will be seeking to use the revamp to draw a line under two months of turmoil for his ruling Liberal-National coalition amid criticism he mismanaged the nation’s wildfire crisis. As the fires and the coronavirus outbreak threaten economic growth, his government has also been forced to walk back its commitment to delivering a budget surplus.

The prime minister had to make the reshuffle after National Party deputy leader Bridget McKenzie resigned from the Cabinet over a breach of ministerial standards. The open position triggered a fresh bout of tensions within the party, with Barnaby Joyce trying and failing to regain its leadership. Nationals lawmaker Matt Canavan quit as resources minister earlier this week after declaring his support for Joyce.

Pitt, 50, is a former electrical engineer and sugar-cane farmer from Queensland state, representing the seat of Hinkler since 2013. This is his first ministry appointment.

Littleproud, 43, is seen as a rising star within the Nationals and has replaced McKenzie as deputy leader. He held the agriculture portfolio from December 2017 until last May, when he became minister for water resources, drought, rural finance, natural disasters and emergency management; he will keep those positions while adding agriculture.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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