PRIME MINISTER: Well good afternoon. The new ministerial line up that I'm announcing today is a dynamic team which combines youth, new talent, experience, continuity and a real sense of innovation and enterprise. It's a team that's focused on Australia's future, focused on the policies that will encourage innovation and enterprise, secure our prosperity as a 21st century economy with a strong social welfare safety net, ensure we remain the nation we want to be, we want to remain, high wages, generous social welfare safety net, advanced technology, jobs for our children and our grandchildren in this the most exciting time in human history.
Now I want to pay tribute, especially to two towering figures of the Coalition in government and indeed in opposition, who retired during this week, Warren Truss and Andrew Robb. And you know, they have left us and their talents are immense but what it has underlined to me and this has been the hardest part of my work since then, is the enormous talent we have in our party room. The hardest part of this reshuffle is recognising that there are so many others in our party room who have got the capability, the talent, the passion for hard work, the passion for Australia to qualify them to do these jobs in the ministry.
So we have an abundance of talent in the Coalition. So let me run through the list. Firstly, I congratulate Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash again on their election as Leader and Deputy Leader of the National Party.
Barnaby Joyce will consequently be sworn in as the Deputy Prime Minister and he will retain his portfolio of Agriculture and Water Resources. His Deputy, Senator Fiona Nash, will be sworn in as the Minister for Regional Development, Regional Communications and Rural Health.
Replacing Andrew Robb, the most effective Trade and Investment Minister in our history, is Andrew's recommended successor, Steven Ciobo. Steven comes into the Cabinet and he’ll work very closely with Andrew over the coming months.
I'm appointing Andrew Robb as a Special Envoy for Trade between now and the election so that he can support Steven in the transition into the new portfolio and ensure that Andrew's remarkable range of international contacts will be introduced to his successor.
Darren Chester will take on Warren Truss's responsibilities for infrastructure and transport. Darren will make a formidable contribution in this portfolio. He has been one of the younger stars in the Parliament and recognised as such for a long time.
Mathias Cormann will retain his responsibilities that he's taken on in an acting capacity but he’ll retain them formally as the Special Minister of State in addition to being the Finance Minister.
As you know, Mal Brough informed me earlier today that he did not wish to be considered for a position in the new executive line up given the fact that the police investigations are continuing and will continue at least for some months, as he understands.
Senator Scott Ryan will be sworn in as the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills. Now this ministry was previously, has been held by Luke Hartsuyker and he is not featuring in the National Party's ministerial line up on this occasion. I want to thank Luke for his contribution in that portfolio. He also has made a great contribution to the Coalition in opposition as well and we worked very closely together when I was the Shadow Communications Minister and he was the Shadow Minister for Regional Communications. He's a great parliamentarian, a great coalitionist and he will be missed.
Alan Tudge will be sworn in as the Minister for Human Services.
Dan Tehan will be sworn in as the Minister for Defence Materiel and the Minister for Veterans’ Services.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells will be appointed and sworn in as Minister for International Development and the Pacific. This is a very exciting promotion for Connie and recognises her extremely successful and very important work as the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.
Senator Matt Canavan from Queensland will be sworn in as the Minister for Northern Australia. He will work closely with the senior minister in that portfolio, Josh Frydenberg and the Cabinet Minister. This is a policy area of Northern Australia, of northern development which is absolutely central to Australia's growth and future prosperity.
In the Assistant Minister ranks, the Parliamentary Secretary ranks, the changes are these.
Keith Pitt will serve as the Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Craig Laundy will become the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.
Jane Prentice will be the Assistant Minister for Disability Services working with Christian Porter.
Angus Taylor will serve as the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister with special responsibility for Cities and Digital Transformation. These are two key whole of government areas and they will be taken, continued to be driven through my leadership and my department in the future.
Dr Peter Hendy will serve as Assistant Minister in the Finance portfolio supporting Mathias Cormann and also as Assistant Cabinet Secretary.
Senator James McGrath will continue to serve as my assistant minister but will take on additional duties supporting Peter Dutton as Assistant Minister for Immigration.
The swearing in ceremony will take place and I thank the Governor-General for making, agreeing to this, at Government House in Canberra on Thursday morning.
And I note for those of you that keep the score on these things, there are 6 women in the Cabinet and 10 in the executive and both Deputy Leaders of the Liberal and the National Party are women for the first time in the Coalition's history. And over to you.
JOURNALIST: Mr Turnbull did you expect such a messy start to your prime ministership?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm delighted with the way the Government has been established, or re-established under my leadership. We've made strong policy changes, particularly on innovation and science, that's been a, that's a key feature of our focus, of our drive. It's a key element in Australia's future prosperity.
Right across the board we've also seen, as you've hinted at, we've seen transition but the loss of Andrew Robb and Warren Truss is, it is a loss, of course but as both of them said, there comes a time when one should retire and the time to retire, the time to go was when they're begging for more and that's exactly what Warren and Andrew did.
JOURNALIST: Will this be your last reshuffle before the election?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, one can't be sure but I certainly don't anticipate any further changes to the ministerial line up.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister surely this is embarrassing for a fairly new government to have to do this sweeping reshuffle. What do you make of the commentary that it looks like a shambles and it's in chaos?
PRIME MINISTER: Can I, well, I'll leave you to run the commentary but I can, all I can say to you is that change offers opportunity. The loss of Andrew and Warren in particular is a loss, there's no doubt about that.
But there comes a time when you need to transition from older leadership to younger leadership so that new people can come up. I mean politics is a, managing a ministry, managing a cabinet is managing talent and we have a lot of - we have more talent in our party room than we can include in the Cabinet.
There's only 42 spaces in the whole ministry. All ministers and parliamentary secretaries and we have more talent than – many, much more talent than you would need to fill that. So really turnover, change is good. It is important in any organisation, including in a government.
JOURNALIST: You mention there's a lot of talent but you also mention there's a lack of experience having Warren Truss and Andrew Robb gone.
PRIME MINISTER: No I didn't say that at all. There is a wealth of experience in this ministerial line up.
JOURNALIST: I was going to say does it worry that there is, I mean there's a focus on younger faces, so does that worry you?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I'm surprised that, I’m surprised that you would find a change which sees so much new talent, generally younger talent, coming in to the Ministry as being somehow or another a bad thing. This is a revitalised government and it's revitalised because of new blood, of new talent coming in and that is the - the alternative is to leave everything the same and not make any changes.
JOURNALIST: With Andrew Robb becoming the Trade Envoy, how does that work, what’s the legal mechanism?
PRIME MINISTER: Well the, he is, he will be - he will be a special envoy, he won't be paid anything additional for that. It’s similar to the role Philip Ruddock has on the human rights side but the aim really , Andrew, look, this is the reality and I know some people say you might want to write all sorts of commentaries about that but let's be real, let's be absolutely clearheaded about this.
Andrew, as he said, turns 65 this year. He believes he's got another career in him and he wants to get started on it before he's, you know, nearly 70. So he's made, he's also had an enormous run. He's negotiated three free trade agreements in our region, not to speak of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So he’s, you know, it is hard to imagine a Trade Minister doing better than that. He's certainly done better than any of his predecessors. It's an extraordinary track record.
So he's getting out on top and having said that, he's made a lot of contacts, a lot of good contacts, continuing contacts and so it's important that he hands over to Steve Ciobo, whom he recommended as his successor and I agree that Steven's an outstanding choice to succeed him, so he will use that as a means of making a handover.
And the reason why he and Warren is in the same position, the reason why they made the announcements when they did is they obviously have to give their members in their respective electorates to choose a new candidate and they've got, you can't making an announcement like that, the day the election's called, would be pretty unhelpful.
JOURNALIST: But why that type of support for that particular portfolio, is that saying something about the new line up?
PRIME MINISTER: No the trade, the trade portfolio, or trade and investment, I should say, involves a lot of contacts, a lot of very - which are in many respects personal contacts and so when you move from one minister to another, in this particular case, given that there are a number of big negotiations on foot, which are unlikely to be, well they may be completed before the election, they may not be, but there are continuing negotiations and so it is important that there be a smooth handover.
So keeping Andrew involved is obviously very helpful for Steven and it's manifestly in Australia's interests.
JOURNALIST: How sure are you that institutional knowledge won’t be lost through some of these positions going to younger talent which was my point leading up an election?
PRIME MINISTER: So you've just said to me, you just said so we should never give young people a job? I'm not surprised.
JOURNALIST: No, that's not my point.
PRIME MINISTER: No, OK.
JOURNALIST: Completely the opposite.
PRIME MINISTER: Right.
JOURNALIST: Leading up to an election and a budget, does it worry you that institutional knowledge perhaps won't be there given that there is (inaudible).
PRIME MINISTER: Well the two most experienced people that are being replaced here are Warren Truss and Andrew Robb. Andrew, as I said, is 65 and has decided he doesn't want to run again at the election. Warren is older than that and equally doesn't want to run again at the election.
So what they have done is give the Government and their parties plenty of notice to enable successors to be appointed and elected and that's exactly what's happened. But this is, you know, this is transition, this is change, this is renewal and it's very, it's a very important part.
I mean, you know, organisms that don't change are dead so you've got to be prepared to change. You've got to be prepared to innovate, that's why I talk about innovation all the time, that's why I talk about enterprise. This is the most rapidly changing time in the world's history and organisations, governments, media organisations, perhaps, even, should always be prepared to look at new talent and bring it up.
And in this case we've got two great men with a wealth of experience in their respective areas, have decided to retire. As I said, they've decided to go when people are calling for more which is always the best time to go.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you spoke very highly of the outgoing Assistant Multicultural Affairs Minister, what are your hopes for this portfolio moving forward under Minister Laundy?
PRIME MINISTER: Well Craig Laundy is a formidable communicator. He is one of the, he is a truly charismatic politician, if you've been out with him in his electorate you would know what I mean. He radiates warmth and an ability to connect with people from every background.
He has worked very well with organisations and groups from every conceivable cultural, racial, religious background. So he's very well equipped to do this. I mean can I say that we are the most successful multicultural society in the world, there's no doubt. Few people would doubt that. But we can't take that for granted and so it's very important that we, that all of our policies are focused on strengthening that, building up that mutual respect which underpins the harmony which has made us such a successful country.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister will this affect budget preparations and the timing of an election?
PRIME MINISTER: I’m sorry?
JOURNALIST: Will this affect the budget preparations and the timing of an election?
PRIME MINISTER: No, not at all. Thank you very much.