Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said rumours of a refreshed Coalition cabinet are “a dime a dozen”.
News Corp reported on Friday that Mr Abbott planned to unveil a new-look cabinet in an effort to ‘dump dead wood’, citing a “senior government source”.
But the PM was quick to deny the speculation and told reporters on Friday it was “wrong”.
Mr Abbott was reportedly being encouraged to promote the “next generations of stars” to improve the Coalition’s chances of electoral success.
Surprisingly, embattled Treasurer Joe Hockey was expected to keep his role.
Cabinet ministers Ian Macfarlane, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews were in doubt, News Corp reported.
The up-and-coming “stars” tipped for promotions were former WA treasurer Christian Porter, Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, Minister for Human Services Marise Payne, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer, and Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash, Sky News reported.
Rumours quickly denied
Government frontbencher Christopher Pyne told Channel Nine on Friday morning the article was “speculative” and without substance.
“These speculative stories come and go, they take a journalist 10 minutes to write, and they are doing all sorts of damage during the day,” Mr Pyne said.
Mr Abbott said earlier this week Mr Hockey would remain in his role as treasurer.
“There is a sense in which politicians can never work hard enough,” Mr Abbott told the Seven Network’s Sunrise program, according to news.com.au.
“Because Joe was responsible along with me and the cabinet, for last year’s budget which was a budget for saving, a difficult but necessary budget for saving. He was also responsible for this year’s budget for confidence.”
‘It’s a leak from the PM’s office’
Early on Friday, Labor Shadow Minister Anthony Albanese insisted the report had a ring of accuracy because of where it was published.
“These stories don’t come and go when they are in The Daily Telegraph. That is an annexe of the Prime Minister’s media office,” he told Channel Nine.
“They get the drop on every story, much to the annoyance of the rest of the press gallery. So I think those ministers who have been mentioned will be very nervous this morning.”
Mr Albanese said the reported cabinet clear out was a response to Mr Abbott being “stalked” by Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison.
“All they are trying to sort out is who the challenger will be.”
The PM continued to face pressure in the polls. On Monday, the latest Newspoll published in The Australian put Mr Abbott’s disproval rating at 63 per cent, while ALP leader Bill Shorten was the preferred PM at 41 per cent.
Labor led in the two-party-preferred, maintaining a 54-46 lead over the Coalition.