Malcolm Turnbull’s job just became a little more difficult, as he looks to reshuffle his ministry to cover the loss of Andrew Robb and the impending retirement of Deputy PM Warren Truss.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb yesterday informed his party of his decision to retire from federal politics after 12 “fulfilling” years as Member for the Victorian seat of Goldstein.
“I can confirm today my intention to stand down from federal politics effective at the next election,” Robb said in a statement issued late yesterday.
His decision adds another dimension to the Prime Minister’s ministerial shuffle, further complicated by the expected announcement of National’s Leader Warren Truss’ retirement some time today.
Mr Robb was hailed by the PM as “the most successful trade minister in our country’s history” because of his ‘successful’ completion of free trade agreements with China, South Korea and Japan and the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
According to multiple sources, Warren Truss will resign from his position as the National’s Leader and Minister for Infrastructure today, leaving Mr Turnbull the tricky task of finding a new Deputy Leader.
Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and the deputy leader of the Nationals Barnaby Joyce is widely tipped to take over from Mr Truss as leader of the party, although some ministers are annoyed at Mr Joyce’s ‘unseemly’ haste to replace Mr Truss. Some Liberals have also expressed concern at the prospect of Mr Joyce manning the fort should the PM head overseas or go on leave.
The PM has been waiting for Truss’s decision before tackling a ministerial reshuffle ahead of the next Federal Election. In December last year, he saw the resignation of his Minister for Cities and the Built Environment Jamie Briggs and the stepping down of the Special Minister of State Mal Brough. Add to that the investigation of Minister for Human Services and Veterans’ Affairs Stuart Robert for apparent breaches of ministerial privilege, and it would seem that the PM has his work cut out.
Mr Robert’s future will be decided on Thursday, as the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson is expected to deliver the findings of his review.
As expected, Labor leader Bill Shorten went on the offensive, saying said the PM’s cabinet was now “in chaos”.
“It’s only a matter of time before Malcolm Turnbull stands in his courtyard to tell Australians that ‘good government starts today’,” he said, in reference to the infamous statement made by Tony Abbott after he survived his first leadership spill motion.
What do you think? Is the Coalition in a shambles? Or is it time for new blood in Parliament? Would you be happy with Barnaby Joyce as the new deputy prime minister?