Scott Morrison – Christian Porter, Scott Morrison and reshuffled cabinet ministers face challenging time ahead
Incoming industry minister Christian Porter faces an initial job of convincing the science and technology community he’s the right person for the job.
Porter was demoted from attorney-general, industrial relations minister and Leader of the House to industry, science and technology.
He and cabinet colleagues were sworn in on Tuesday via video conference, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Governor-General David Hurley led the formalities from Government House in Canberra.
Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar said the government had now gone through seven technology and innovation ministers in eight years.
This was despite technology being “the largest and fastest growing industry on the planet”, he tweeted.
Former industry minister Karen Andrews, a professional engineer who now takes on the home affairs role, was surprised by Morrison’s decision to shift her because she had only previously held economic portfolios.
“I didn’t know and I didn’t lobby for it at all,” she told the ABC.
Porter ran into strife with the Australian Academy of Science apologising for welcoming him to the portfolio after copping a social media backlash.
The organisation of Australia’s top research scientists has backtracked on an initial statement, which read: “We look forward to working with incoming Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Christian Porter.”
It described the tweet as “poorly worded” after dozens of people replied by raising historic rape allegations against Porter, which he strenuously denies.
“We apologise. We are deeply aware of the challenging circumstances created by the reshuffle. We will always work to advance science in Australia for all,” the academy said on Tuesday.
Porter said he accepted the defamation action being taken against the ABC required his replacement as attorney-general and he would give the new job “all the energy and commitment” he had.
The backlash highlights ongoing problems plaguing Morrison after rejigging his frontbench line-up.
Linda Reynolds will also stay on the frontbench – moving from defence to government services – despite mishandling rape allegations raised by former staffer Brittany Higgins.
Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said the reshuffle did nothing to resolve the “shadows” over Porter and Senator Reynolds.
Ministers have begun receiving briefings on their new roles, with just six weeks until the federal budget.
Andrews is set to receive details on Wednesday on where the government stands in relation to the plight of a Tamil family from Biloela being held on Christmas Island.
The government’s efforts to deport them to Sri Lanka have so far cost more than $6 million.
Community members have campaigned tirelessly for Priya, Nades and their two young daughters to return to their adopted home in central Queensland.