Home Ministry of affairs Concerns over controversial Water Ministry have been brushed aside from Cabinet and Veterans Minister dumped as royal commission looms

Concerns over controversial Water Ministry have been brushed aside from Cabinet and Veterans Minister dumped as royal commission looms



The federal opposition has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of being beholden to the political whims of the Nationals after the water portfolio was removed from Cabinet.

New Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce unveiled his new top roster on Sunday following the bloodshed inflicted on Michael McCormack last week.

National MP Keith Pitt retained his ministerial responsibilities for resources and water, but lost his seat at the Cabinet table.

This followed an attempt by the nationals, breaking with their liberal coalition partners, to tear apart key elements of the Murray Darling Basin plan.

The failed plan would have privileged access to water for upstream farmers over environmental flows.

“The National Party cannot pretend that water is essential for farmers and the growth of agriculture and then reject this Cabinet portfolio as an internal political return,” said shadow Minister of Water Terri Butler in ABC’s AM program.

“It’s just ridiculous.

“What should have happened is that Scott Morrison should have taken the National Party’s water portfolio and kept it in Cabinet, but instead it does not belong to Cabinet and remains in Party hands. national.”

The attempt by the nationals to force far-reaching changes at the basin level met fierce resistance within the coalition.

Liberal members and Senators from South Australia, including Cabinet Ministers Simon Birmingham and Anne Ruston, wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to stand up to the Coalition Junior Party, fearing for their political fortunes if the nationals got what they wanted.

“The Liberals are lions in their letters and mice when it comes to Canberra,” Ms. Butler said.

Queensland Nationals Senator Susan McDonald, who has taken on a new role outside the ministry as envoy to northern Australia, disagreed with Ms Butler’s suggestion that the portfolio of the water was diminished.

“I don’t think we take anything as serious as water,” she told AM.

“Without water, we all dry up and blow.”

Minister of Water Keith Pitt, Barnaby Joyce.  June 2021.
Keith Pitt retains the resource and water portfolios, but has been demoted from Cabinet.(

ABC News: Matt Roberts


Mr Pitt tweeted on Sunday evening that it has been a privilege to serve as a Cabinet minister.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the resource and water sectors which are both crucial to the national economy,” he said.

The new frontbench team is without former leader Mr. McCormack, who will remain in the backbench.

He will be joined by Mark Coulton, who has been demoted from his portfolios, including regional health and communications, after supporting Mr McCormack in the leadership spill.

Bridget McKenzie takes over most of Mr. Coulton’s former roles, as well as additional drought and emergency management responsibilities.

She occupies Mr. Pitt’s Cabinet seat after having served 18 months of penance, forced to resign from her ministerial post at the height of the so-called “sports rorts” saga.

Veterans Affairs Minister Darren Chester has been kicked out of the ministry, with Barnaby Joyce replacing him with Andrew Gee as a reward for the NSW MP’s loyalty during the party’s internal cutbacks.

“Unfortunately, not everyone can be included in these appointments,” said Senator McDonald.

“Politics is a difficult game … that’s how it is.”

Barnaby Joyce, National Championships Leader-Elected with Bridget McKenzie
Bridget McKenzie returns to Cabinet after 18 months of penance, resigning during the so-called “sports rorts” saga.(

ABC News: Matt Roberts


‘He was not listening’: defenders of veterans welcome new minister

Some members of the veterans community had expressed concern over Mr. Chester’s loss of his post as Minister of Veterans Affairs, just months before the launch of a royal commission on veterans suicides.

But others have welcomed his departure, including longtime activist Julie-Ann Finney.

Ms Finney had called for a royal commission since her son Dave committed suicide in 2019, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after two decades of service in the Royal Australian Navy.

“I think asking for continuity is not the right thing to ask for right now,” she told AM.

“It would be like putting back Christian Porter as attorney general or Linda Reynolds as defense minister.”

“Darren Chester is a very nice man and I think he does a good job for Gippsland – but he hasn’t listened to the veterans when it comes to their business.”

A gray haired man wearing a dark suit and a red tie sitting on a gray blue bench
Concerns had been raised over Darren Chester being emptied from the Veterans Affairs portfolio with an imminent royal commission.(

ABC News: Ian Cutmore


In a statement, Mr. Chester paid tribute to the veterans community.

“I have been incredibly touched by the support expressed both publicly and privately over the past few days by veterans organizations and individuals,” he said.

“I urge the veterans community to provide the same constructive comments, practical advice and contributions that my team has benefited from.

“The Royal Commission is a chance to unite the veterans community and everyone has a chance to have their say. “

He said there was a silver lining in his demotion.

“Ministerial responsibility takes hours away from family life and the biggest benefit of being sacked from Cabinet for the second time is that we can spend more time together in the place we love,” Chester said .

“I love Gippsland and I’m not going anywhere.”

His successor, Mr. Gee, took up the challenge entrusted to him.

“I recognize the exceptional dedication and hard work that Darren Chester has brought to his role as minister,” he said in a statement.

“I really look forward to working with all of the veterans and making sure that their service to this nation is recognized and respected and that their voices are heard.”



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