politics

This week, several women MPs were promoted. But all is not equal.

On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison conducted a virtual ceremony to swear in his new-look ministerial Cabinet.

It's one built with what the Prime Minister has called a "fresh lens", one that puts women in sharper focus.

And it's no surprise. Recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault levelled at MPs and Parliament House staffers have started a national conversation about gender inequality, and it seems this reshuffle is the Government's next attempt at addressing the problem.

"This is about getting the right input. This is about getting the right perspective. It's about getting that lens on the policy challenges that we're facing," he told the media.

There are some significant promotions, though it's not quite the equalising overhaul many were calling for.

Most of the appointments are going to women already in Cabinet who are either receiving additional responsibilities or promotions. And the only new Cabinet appointee is already in the outer ministry.

In other words, the representation of women in ministerial positions remains unchanged at 27 per cent.

Here are the key appointments. 

Michaelia Cash

The standout promotion in the reshuffle is that of Western Australian Senator Michaelia Cash to Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister.

Cash was first elected to the Senate in 2007, and again in 2013 and 2016. During her terms she's held a range of Cabinet roles including Minister for Women, and Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.


The position of AG was previously held by Christian Porter, who has allegedly been asked to step down amid his legal defamation battle with the ABC over a story that featured historical rape allegations against him.

Marise Payne

As the reigning Minister for Women, Marise Payne has been appointed to co-lead (with the Prime Minister) a Cabinet task force that will oversee the status of women.

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The NSW Senator's role will be to drive the Government's agenda on women's equality, women's safety, women's economic security, and women's health and wellbeing.

Announcing the role, Prime Minister Morrison remarked that Senator Payn would essentially be "the Prime Minister for Women". Asked why that wasn't his job, he later clarified that she was the "primary minister for women". 

Payne has been the Minister for Women since 2019 and Minister for Foreign Affairs since 2018. Prior to that, she held the defence and human services portfolios.

Karen Andrews

Another major promotion is that of MP Karen Andrews to Minister for Home affairs, a position freed up by Peter Dutton's long-coveted transition to Minister of Defence.

Her previous portfolio — Industry, Science and Technology — will be taken over by Christian Porter. 

Andrews, who represents the Queensland seat of McPherson in the lower house, has been an MP since 2010 and in the Cabinet since 2018.

"Our deepest responsibility as parliamentarians is to keep Australians safe and secure – and that is what will drive me every day in the Home Affairs portfolio," she said of her new role.

"My priorities will be keeping our borders secure, our communities safe, and ensuring our nation maintains its reputation as a serious global citizen in international efforts to counter extremism."

Anne Ruston


South Australian Senator Anne Ruston is currently Minister for Families and Social Services and will now take on a new, additional portfolio called Women's Safety.

With the additional role, Senator Rushton, who's been a cabinet minister since 2019, will also join the Government's leadership team: a group of 10 senior ministers who meet on a regular basis. 

Melissa Price

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Melissa Price will be retaining her portfolio as Minister for Defence Industries, but she will now return to Cabinet. 

Price was previously the Minister for the Environment, but was demoted to her outer ministry role in 2019. 

Though the election that year was being called 'climate change election', Price was remarkably absent from media and public appearances in the lead up, earning her the nickname "the invisible minister". 

Jane Hume

As the Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy, Senator Jane Hume isn't actually in Cabinet — her position is in the outer ministry. 

But she's another of the Liberal MPs to benefit from the reshuffle, courtesy of an additional appointment as Minister for Women's Economic Security. 

The Victorian senator was elected to parliament in 2016 and has a background in the banking and finance sectors.

She has recently made headlines surrounding a controversial policy proposal that would allow Australians fleeing domestic violence early access their super. The policy was dumped in recent weeks, amid criticism from survivor advocates, super funds and legal experts about victims having to put themselves at risk of future financial insecurity.

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia.