PM dumps embattled senior ministers

After weeks of chaos and crisis, Attorney-General Christian Porter and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds have been stripped of their portfolios.

Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds have been stripped of their portfolios, with Prime Minster Scott Morrison announcing a cabinet reshuffle after several weeks of chaos.

Mr Porter will lose the Attorney-General post and Senator Reynolds has been dumped from the Defence Ministry.

Senator Michaelia Cash will become the next Attorney-General and Peter Dutton will be Defence Minister.

Mr Morrison confirmed he would chair, alongside Minister for Women Marise Payne, a new task force in response to issues surrounding women’s equality.

“Getting these results for Australian women will be achieved through collaboration,” he said.

“They’ll be achieved through listening, they’ll be achieved by acting together, they won’t be achieved by dividing Australians and setting them apart.”

Mr Morrison said Marise Payne would become “effectively … the Prime Minister for Women”.

“These changes will shake up what needs to be shaken up while maintaining the momentum and the continuity and the stability that Australia needs,” he said.

Christian Porter announced he was going on mental health leave at a press conference on March 3, in which he vehemently denied a historical claim that he raped a 16-year-old girl.

He has been under pressure to resign after he revealed himself as the minister at the centre of the rape allegation.

Mr Porter has never been charged and police confirmed there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed with an investigation, labelling the matter “closed”.

His decision to launch defamation proceedings against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan saw calls for him to be removed from his position intensify, over conflict of interest concerns.

Meanwhile, Senator Reynolds has been on leave since February after being admitted to hospital to receive treatment for a pre-existing heart condition.

She has faced intense criticism over her handling of Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape in Parliament House — first reported by news.com.au in February this year.

The former Liberal Party staffer has alleged she was raped at Parliament House in Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ ministerial office by a colleague.

Police are investigating the incident and a political inquiry was suspended on Monday over concerns it could interfere with the criminal probe.

The significant reshuffle saw a number of senior moves, including among the two major scalps today.

Mr Porter will be Minister for Industry, Science and Technology while Ms Reynolds will take on Government Service and the NDIS.

Filling the Home Affairs Minister role as Mr Dutton moves to Defence will be Karen Andrews.

The Morrison government has been under renewed pressure since the publication last week of “disgusting” images and videos of male senior government staff performing sex acts in Parliament House.

A shambolic press conference by Scott Morrison the next day, in which he falsely claimed News Corp Australia – publisher of news.com.au – was subject to its own harassment investigation, saw criticism intensify.

On top of that, the saga surrounding Queensland MP Andrew Laming has added fuel to the fire, with him now saying he won’t contest the next election.

The news that he would quit politics and not move to the crossbench followed allegations he took a photograph of a woman bending over to fill a fridge with soft drinks – without her consent – and abused two women online to the point that one considered suicide.

-with NCA NewsWire

Read related topics:Scott Morrison

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