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Girls & Women

The Newly Announced Australian Cabinet Maintains Record Number of Women


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Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new cabinet, announced Sunday, has maintained its previous record.

The newly re-elected Prime Minister’s 22-member frontbench will feature seven women — the highest level of female representation in Australia’s history. Morrison first achieved the feat back in March, and, true to his promise, has maintained the number following his shock reinstatement in last week’s election.

"The ministry maintains that I announced today have a record representation of women in cabinet for an Australian government,” Morrison told reporters Sunday at Parliament House. “The ministry will be tasked to deliver on the commitments we set out in the election.”

Most notably, the cabinet reshuffle will see Bridget McKenzie become Australia’s first ever female agriculture minister and Sussan Ley replace Melissa Price to become minister for the environment.

Linda Reynolds has been appointed as the new defence minister while Karen Andrews will maintain the ministry for industry, science, and technology. Anne Ruston has been promoted to minister for families and social services. Michaelia Cash will take on a new role as minister for skills, small, and family business as well as the employment portfolio.

Jane Hume will be assistant minister for superannuation, financial services, and financial technology.

Marise Payne will retain her position as minister for foreign affairs while also working as the minister for women. In a statement, Payne announced her portfolios would allow her to direct attention to securing economic opportunities for women while also focusing on achieving genuine gender equality throughout the Pacific region.

"Our agenda internationally will continue to be one which supports a safe and prosperous region, building economic opportunity, and resilience. The continued strengthening of our alliances and strategic partnerships, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, will remain a critical priority," she stated. "The intersection of my two portfolios also presents extraordinary opportunities to make gains for women and girls both at home and abroad."

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While particular emphasis has been placed on the number of women in cabinet, it does not illustrate positive female representation across Australia’s parliament as a whole. Women will make up just over a fifth of the Liberal party’s lower house MPs and senators. Within Labor, women will make up 47%.

Neither party will feature a woman in their main leadership team for the first time in over a decade.

"We have to continue to work on this," Payne told the Australian Associated Press. "It's a matter that we have to work at consistently within our parties, across Australia, to ensure that we have great women standing for selection and great women able to be elected to key seats across the country — that is certainly going to be a priority of mine."

The new cabinet will be sworn in on Wednesday.