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Marise Payne sworn in as first female Defence Minister

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 21, 2015

10373852_1615669565319283_163503476861061255_nSenator Marise Payne has been sworn in as the new Minister for Defence in place of Kevin Andrews, who expressed his disappointment that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had decided to move him aside as he looked to the future by making extensive changes to the ministry.

The former Minister for Human Services, who has become the first woman to hold the position of Defence Minister, was appointed in a surprise move amid speculation that Christopher Pyne would get the nod, and despite concerns over leadership churn in Defence. Nevertheless, the appointment has been welcomed given Senator Payne’s long-standing interest in Defence matters.

“Marise is one of our most experienced and capable senators,” Prime Minister Turnbull said. “She has spent two years in the Human Services portfolio, and has done an outstanding job in modernising government service delivery.

“She will release the Defence White Paper later this year, defining our key national security priorities, and she will of course join the National Security Committee of Cabinet.”

Mal Brough was named as Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, and Darren Chester is now Assistant Minister for Defence, having been Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence. Stuart Robert, formerly Assistant Minister for Defence, becomes Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Human Services.

Former minister Andrews repeatedly called for continuity in the Defence portfolio, in light of the imminent release of the 2015 Defence White Paper and with the Competitive Evaluation Process for the Future Submarine program ongoing, among other things, but to no avail.

“I am disappointed that Mr Turnbull chose not to accept my offer to work with him; frankly, my remaining in this job was not about me, it was all about stability for our Defence Force and its leadership,” Andrews said. “As you know, Defence is meant to be a natural strength for a Coalition government; during this government that has not always been the case.”

However, Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James told the ABC that if the Coalition wins the next election Senator Payne could be Defence Minister for the next few years, thereby providing stability.

“Too often Defence has been forced to take ministers who are in the twilight of their parliamentary career and they have only stayed very short periods, and she is the exact opposite of that,” he said. “There are only about 10 people in all of Parliament who have a genuine interest in Defence issues and Marise has had a long-standing one, and that is a great advantage.”

Senator Payne is the Coalition government’s third minister in the Defence portfolio, as Andrews himself was only sworn in as Defence Minister on December 23 last year, replacing Senator David Johnston.

The First Principles Review of Defence, which was released in April, identified leadership churn as one of the main root causes of “complacency and inertia” in Defence that has hampered change over the past decade.

Andrews is obviously keen to at least see continuity in policy under Prime Minister Turnbull, stating that the White Paper is “finalised and ready for release” as he made his exit.

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Comments (8)

  • Raymond


    I was really hoping that Andrews would continue as Defence Minister. There are some big announcements to be made at Defence shortly and some continuity would have been great. There have also been even more Defence ministers than Prime Minister’s in the last few years! Hopefully Turnbull made the right choice, she does well and yet another change will be worth it in the long run. Time will tell.

  • Nicholas Paul


    A bad move. Andrews might have been a dry old stick but from all accounts he was on top of his brief and with some key strategic decisions to be made in the next few months it does make you wonder if Turnbull is a clever as he thinks he is. No rudeness to the good Senator but she has been in Parliament for 20 years and I’d ask you if you can recall one thing she’s done in that period?

    Defense is not for plodders or tokenism, not a good start Malcolm..

  • David


    At least we have a politition who has a genuine interest in defence

  • Adrian P


    Personally I think senators should not be in cabinet as the job of the senate is to review government policy not create it..

    Senators in cabinet end up reviewing their own policy.

  • G4george


    Ministers are just a mouth piece, the people who count and know what they are talking about work behind the scenes, Andrew Robb for instance, was a beaurocrat for years before stepping out into the spotlight.

  • jad81887


    Let Payne reign on the parade.

  • Myles Dobinson


    I disagree as Andrews has presided over the official denigration of the ANZACs by supporting and instituting across the defence community the publication Battling with Words by Dr Elizabeth Thomson, Secretary of Defence Fellow. To which I hope the new minister will review and withdraw this rubbish from the official teachings in the Defence forces. Below is an excerpt from a publication in the Army News where a lowly sapper ( Spr Mattisse Karzons1 Topo Survey Sqn1 Int Bn, Gallipoli Barracks) dared to disagree with the official doctrine.

    “A hero is defined by the Webster dictionary as “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities”. It would seem from what Dr Thomson writes that these acts should not be the focus of the definition of heroism, with less emphasis placed on the “act” of being a hero for fear of being non inclusive to minority groups within Defence. Such sentiment cheapens the heroic deeds of any and all Defence members. A hero transcends race, religion and sex and Dr Thomson continually denigrates the “Anglo-Australian male soldier” while neglecting the truly heroic deeds of Aboriginal soldiers such as Cpl Albert
    Knight, Pte William Rawlings and arguably one of the most revered soldiers to ever serve in our Army, Capt Reginald Saunders. Heroism comes from within and cannot be taught or promoted. In the Australian Army it is not encouraged solely by Anglo-Australian males.”

  • runabout


    From first appearances Senator Payne looks to be a good decision. Her speeches indicate that she is strong willed and confident, something the defence force needs in a minister.
    A deep contrast to Andrews who was a wet rag and sounded like he didn’t know what he was talking about. His comment about the length of time the air force is going to be conducting strike in the middle east is a good example.

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