Morrison rejigs cabinet to strike gender balance after rape scandals

Sydney, Australia, Mar 29 (efe-epa).- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reshuffled his cabinet Monday and demoted two powerful ministers at the center of the weeks of rape scandals that have plagued the government.

The prime minister’s popularity has dropped seven percentage points in the last two weeks after criticism over the rights of women.

A poll published Monday by The Australian newspaper indicated that his popularity was down from 62 to 55 percent.

As criticism mounted against Morrison, he removed Christian Porter as the attorney-general and Linda Reynolds as the defense minister.

Porter, who faces an accusation of rape, allegedly committed in 1988, and which was archived by police over lack of evidence, will now handle the portfolio of the industry, science, and technology.

He has denied the accusation of rape.

Michaelia Cash, who headed the employment ministry, was named the new Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister. She had been acting as the top legal officer of the government during Porter’s absence.

Reynolds, accused of mishandling sexual abuse allegations in her office, will be the new minister for government services. She, however, remains in the Morrison cabinet.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will replace Reynolds as the new defense minister.

Karen Andrews, who held the industry, science, and technology portfolio, will be the new home minister. She is the second woman who was given the top position in the cabinet rejig.

Morrison also announced that he and Foreign Minister Marise Payne would co-chair a new task force to address gender issues and women’s equality.

The task force will have all ministers and managers of portfolios of Treasury and Finance.

“These changes will shake up what needs to be shaken up while maintaining the momentum and the continuity and the stability that Australia needs,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

He said the cabinet rejig would achieve “what we all want for Australian women.”

“Getting these results for Australian women will be achieved through collaboration,” he said.

“They will be achieved through listening. They will be achieved by acting together. They won’t be achieved by dividing Australians and setting them apart.”

Besides, Anne Ruston has taken the additional role of the newly created portfolio of safety of women while and Jane Hume has become the new minister of women’s economic security.

Morrison has been under pressure after thousands of Australians took to the streets earlier this month to protest against gender inequality after the government’s alleged mishandling of several allegations of sexual abuse in the country’s parliament.

The prime minister was heavily criticized by the opposition and women’s groups for not taking decisive action to protect women.

It came over a month after former Liberal Party adviser Brittany Higgins said she had been raped by a co-worker in Parliament House in 2019.

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