Kevin Andrews has been dumped as defence minister in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new ministry.
Mr Andrews, a backer of former prime minister Tony Abbott, had wanted to stay in the defence portfolio and last week pointed to significant upcoming decisions including the new Defence White Paper.
“I am disappointed that Mr Turnbull did not accept my offer to work with him,” he said.
“Frankly, my remaining in this job was not about me, it was all about the stability of our Defence Force in Australia and its leadership.”
He said Mr Turnbull’s decision meant there had been more defence ministers in Australia than prime ministers in the past three years.
Meanwhile, former Liberal leader John Hewson says the switch to Turnbull gives the government the opportunity to reset the economic agenda and break the reform deadlock.
Mr Turnbull put the handling of the economy at the centre of his challenge to oust former prime minister Tony Abbott last Monday.
Dr Hewson said it is now about marketing the message that gives a better explanation in a very uncertain global economy.
The government must focus on an objective, like doubling the nation’s productivity by 2025, and then go through each of the policy areas to explain what needs to be done, whether it’s the reform of industrial relations or tax, or energy and energy efficiency, he said.
“You need to reset the agenda because we can’t go on with this game where one side (of politics) proposes something and the other side immediately says no,” Dr Hewson told Sky News.
Former Labor NSW treasurer Michael Costa said if Mr Turnbull and his new economic team – to be announced later today Sunday – can sell the economic message, then the change to Mr Turnbull would be worthwhile.
“But I’m sceptical,” he told the Ten Network.
He said the government still faced a hostile Senate and the budget position was worse than when the coalition came into government with debt now heading towards half a trillion dollars.
“We’ve got the global economy looking worse,” he said.
Scott Morrison is widely tipped to move from the social services portfolio to take over the role of treasurer from Joe Hockey.
It is still not clear whether Senator Mathias Cormann will remain finance minister.
“I will continue to do my best in whatever capacity the leader sees fit,” Senator Cormann told Sky News.
He agreed the government should be explaining the economic challenges the nation was facing.
As an exporting nation, the government must focus on doing everything it can to ensure the economy is competitive internationally as it can be, while improving productivity and reducing the cost of doing business.
“I agree we can always do better,” he said.