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    Sep 21, 2015

    Aussie PM Turnbull unveils new Cabinet


    AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a new ministerial line-up yesterday, which included promotion of women and younger lawmakers, days after ousting predecessor Tony Abbott in a party coup.

    Scott Morrison, 47, who was named treasurer, is charged with shoring up growth as Australia copes with reduced dependence on mining boom as well as trade with China, which is adjusting to slower, more consumer-focused growth, Bloomberg reported.

    Marise Payne, 51, became the country's first female Defence Minister, and will oversee plans for a new fleet of submarines.

    Kelly O'Dwyer, 38, was appointed assistant treasurer and Minister for Small Business as Mr Turnbull boosted the number of women in Cabinet to five from two.

    Along with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who retained their portfolios, Mr Morrison was one of the few stars of the Abbott government.

    He had spearheaded Australia's policy of ruthlessly stopping asylum seekers from arriving by boat when being immigration minister, and shepherded unpopular pension reforms through the Senate when holding the social services portfolio.

    The appointment of Mr Morrison, a right winger in the conservative Liberal Party, as treasurer is likely go some way to appeasing party critics of the more moderate Mr Turnbull, reported Reuters.

    It may also please a business community frustrated with a lack of policy direction under Mr Abbott and Joe Hockey, the previous treasurer.

    Analysts expect Mr Morrison to transform the economy at a time the budget deficit is forecast to blow out to A$35 billion (S$35.2 billion) in 2015/16, double the initial estimate.

    In 2013, the Liberal Party, under Mr Abbott then, and its junior coalition partner, the National Party, won a landslide election on the promise of stability, economic reform and stopping arrivals by boat of asylum seekers.

    Mr Abbott was ditched as party leader and prime minister last Monday, after months of destabilising infighting and a series of gaffes and perceived policy missteps.

    Veteran political commentator Malcolm Mackerras said the new Cabinet should give the government a boost as it heads into the elections expected next year.

    Mr Turnbull, a 60-year-old multi-millionaire former banker and businessman, stressed the need for consultative leadership in contrast to Mr Abbott's centralised decision-making processes, reported Agence France-Presse.

    He has made economic policy a key tenet of his new administration, promising to speak honestly about the country's challenges.

    Mr Turnbull has polled well nationally, with a Galaxy survey released on Friday showing the government's standing higher at 51 per cent compared to the opposition Labor party's 49 per cent - the first time it has been in a winning position since May 2014.