Turnbull’s cabinet includes Australia’s first female defence minister


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appointed five women to senior government ministries Sunday, including Marise Payne as Australia’s first female defence minister.

Six days after winning an intra-party revolt against Tony Abbott to become prime minister, the more moderate Turnbull made sweeping cabinet changes including dumping Treasurer Joe Hockey for Scott Morrison.

“Today I’m announcing a 21st-century government and a ministry for the future,” Turnbull said.

He appointed more women to senior posts, after Abbott’s cabinet had only one woman – Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who stays on.

Turnbull said Hockey would leave politics. Abbott has not spoken publicly since his last press conference on Tuesday, but told selected reporters he intends to stay in parliament.

Turnbull sacked six ministers, several of them key Abbott supporters including defence minister Kevin Andrews, replacing them with younger, moderate party members.

Payne, a 51-year-old senator, takes over the defence portfolio as the country embarks on a massive build-up including new submarines, warships and jet fighters.

She will also have responsibility for Australian forces fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as part of the US-led coalition.

Turnbull signaled a return to government focused on innovation and science, posts that were left empty in the Abbott government.

The prime minister, an enthusiastic user of public transport, also created the new post of minister for cities to examine ways to improve transportation.