Abbott's 'back to basics' ministry criticised

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Tony Abbott's first ministry appointments have been criticised for the absence of a separate minister for ageing, science or disabilities. A retiring Liberal MP has also attacked the ministry appointments for gender imbalance.

Liberal Senator Sue Boyce is shocked and embarrassed there is only one female cabinet minister in the incoming Abbott government.

Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott unveiled his ministerial line up on Monday, revealing the  only woman in the cabinet is Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

Earlier: Abbott unveils his frontbench

Senator Boyce, who is retiring from parliament when her term in the Senate expires next July, said the lack of women in cabinet should be a wake up call for the Liberal Party.

"It's a systemic problem for our party," Senator Boyce said in a statement.

"It's a shame that this shocking and embarrassing statistic will permanently tarnish a wonderful victory."

Senator Boyce urged the party to reform preselection processes in order to foster the depth of talent to ensure both women and men take on senior roles.

She also had a crack at the coalition's preselection process in her home state of Queensland where only six out of 30 candidates were women.

Meanwhile, interim Labor leader Chris Bowen says whole sections of Australian society and industries have been left unrepresented by the first Abbott Cabinet.

Mr Bowen says for example, there is no cabinet minister with specific responsibility for the important resources industry.

And he says the Abbott Cabinet represents a sad day for political representation of Australian women.

"All cabinet ministers and all ministers should always be appointed on merit. The fact that the new Prime Minister could only find - out of his entire party room - one female member of parliament that he regards as meritorious enough to serve in his cabinet is a sad indictment. The cabinet of Afghanistan now has more females in it than the cabinet of Australia."

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