Malcolm Turnbull

First Indigenous minister appointed in Turnbull Government shake-up


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's ministry reshuffle includes promotions for Ken Wyatt and Greg Hunt, but reduces the size of cabinet by one.

Malcolm Turnbull has appointed the first Indigenous government minister in Australian history as part of a wider ministerial reshuffle.

West Australian MP Ken Wyatt has been promoted to the position of minister for aged care and Indigenous health, in an announcement made by the prime minister this morning.

“Just as Ken was the first Indigenous person to be elected to the House of Representatives, and the first to be appointed to the executive of the commonwealth government, he is now the first Indigenous person appointed to the commonwealth ministry,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney this morning.

Mr Wyatt said soon after the announcement, “words cannot describe the pride I feel for myself and my family".

Industry and Innovation Minister Greg Hunt has been given the Health portfolio and will replace former minister Sussan Ley, who resigned last week over the ongoing expenses saga.

“He is ideally suited to take on the very important, critically important, front-line portfolio of health and sport,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Hunt said he is deeply honoured to take on the new responsibility.

“My mother was a nurse. My wife is a nurse. All my life I have witnessed the absolute dedication of Australia’s medical professionals," he said.

"I now look forward to working with our excellent nurses, doctors, researchers, and all our healthcare professionals.

He will also take on the sport portfolio and said, “as a sports fan and sports Dad, I am also thrilled to be working towards getting more Australians, including indigenous Australians, involved in sport".

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said the new health minister faces many challenges in the position and it will meet with him in at the earliest opportunity. 

“The AMA would like to see Mr Hunt get off to a flying start by scrapping the Government’s freeze of Medicare patient rebates, which is causing great hardship for patients and doctors,” said AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon.

Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos will take Mr Hunt’s place in the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio.


The position of cabinet secretary will go back to a staff member within the prime minister’s department.

Victorian MP Michael Sukkar has also been promoted to the position of assistant minister to the treasurer.

“These changes will further strengthen my ministry by combining experience and new talent. It is a team that is focused on delivering for all Australians,” Mr Turnbull said.

The prime minister says the reshuffle is not major and he believes he has a very good team that is working well.

The new ministers will be sworn in by the governor-general in Canberra next Tuesday.


Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch