Government hardliner, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has been promoted to Social Services Minister with Kevin Andrews moving to the role of Defence Minister, the Prime Minister has announced.
The ministerial reshuffle was announced by Tony Abbott after the resignation of Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos on Friday.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews will replace David Johnston as Defence Minister.
Andrews has been in the role of Social Services Minister since the Abbott Government came to power in 2013. He has been the force behind the Government’s move to abolish the charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
He also set up the McClure Inquiry into welfare reform.
The Prime Minister confirmed that the welfare reform will continue under Scott Morrison.
The ACNC Repeal Legislation will return to the Senate for debate in 2015.
Abbott said he was prepared accept that the community debate indicated a better way forward. “We can’t give up on the vital task of Government living within its means.
“I accept that we have had a difficult time in the Senate. We never thought it was going to be easy. But we don’t give up.”
The Prime Minister said Scott Morrison will bring a strong sense of social compassion to that role.
He said Scott Morrison will talk to other Senators in coming weeks to help get the budget through the Parliament.
“Scott is a tough and confident political operator but an extremely decent human being…what we need is the right blend in these areas and good judgement in these areas and that’s what you will get from Scott Morrison,” Abbott said.
“Kevin Andrews has a strong set of safe hands and he will be part of a strong (defence) team. I am confident he will do a great job,” Abbott said.
Acting Leader of the Opposition Penny Wong was critical of the reshuffle particularly the move of Scott Morrison as the new Social Services Minister.
“Mr. Morrison’s stay in immigration has been short, nasty and secretive, now he will be in charge of policies for pensioners and people with disability,” Senator Wong said.
She said the Prime Minister may have changed his ministers but he hasn’t changed his policies.
Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne said the Prime Minister’s moves will now make people feel very afraid.
“Putting Scot Morrison in charge of social services will send shivers down the spine of Australians.”
She said the Prime Minister will now manage the Senate by putting “crash and crash through” Scott Morrison in charge of social services.
“If the Prime Minister thinks extra stand over tactics will flog the Senate into submission..it just won’t work.”
Not for Profit peak body, the Community Council for Australia (CCA) says the incoming Social Services Minister is facing some major challenges and hopes Scott Morrison will bring a willingness to work positively with the sector to his new portfolio.
“CCA would also like to acknowledge outgoing Assist Treasurer Sinodinos who supported the sector in his decision to shelve the proposed new tax on the commercial operations of charities,” CCA CEO David Crosbie said.
“CCA also commends the efforts of outgoing Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews who, despite differences around the future of the ACNC, had begun work to introduce 5 year funding for the sector and was looking at positive ways to increase philanthropy in Australia.”
This article first appeared on ‘Pro Bono News’ on 21 December 2014.