Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott has announced the line-up of the incoming Federal Ministry ahead of the swearing in of the Coalition Government on Wednesday.
Western Australian Senator Mathias Cormann has been confirmed as the incoming Minister for Finance. Prior to the election, Cormann was Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation.
Michael McCormack will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.
Shadow Minister for Finance Andrew Robb has been charged with responsibility for the trade and investment portfolio from Wednesday.
The other potential candidate for Finance Minister, Arthur Sinodinos will instead be in the outer ministry as Assistant Treasurer. Abbott brushed aside speculation in the media that Sinodinos had been given a lesser role due to concern about his previous chairmanship of Australian Water Holdings, and the consequent possibility of being called before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.
“There is no cloud over Arthur Sinodinos,” said Abbott. “One of the things you have come to expect of me, I hope, is a stable, measured, calm approach to doing things… that’s what we’ve got here, Arthur moving up from the ranks of parliament to the ranks of the ministry."
Malcolm Turnbull has also been confirmed as Minister for Communications, and Paul Fletcher has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Communications Minister.
Cormann is likely to follow in outgoing Finance Minister Penny Wong’s footsteps and have minimal involvement in the Department of Finance’s ICT functions. While he has been on a number of finance-related parliamentary committees including Corporations and Financial Services since his election to the Senate in 2007, Cormann has not had any documented involvement in ICT matters.
In light of this, Andrew Robb’s comments before the election in his capacity as Shadow Finance Minister, may remain relevant in indicating the likely delegation of ICT responsibility in the Abbott Government.
“If we get the privilege of government on the weekend, Finance does have a role, but the principle role in an Abbott Government in this area [ICT] will be led by the Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull,” Robb said during the release of the Coalition’s Policy for E-Government and the Digital Economy.
An announcement regarding changes to portfolios is expected to follow the swearing in of Abbott and his new ministry on Wednesday.
“Yes, there will be a reorganisation of portfolios that will flow from this particular ministry,” said Abbott.
“Some reorganisations in the public service will obviously follow from that."
In his appointment of portfolio ministers, Abbott was quick to differentiate himself from the previous government “where it seemed Ministers needed an extra-large business card” to contain their portfolios.
“I’ve tried to avoid long and sonorous titles,” he said.
“It is possible to take things very seriously indeed without [putting them in people’s titles]. Frankly, I want to avoid title inflation.”
As for the return of parliament, Abbott declined to give a precise date.
“It will come back,” he said. “But it won’t come back until we have a very solid legislative program.”
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