Ministry to be sworn-in on Monday: PM

Malcolm Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says his new ministry will be sworn-in on Monday and is likely to include more women.

Malcolm Turnbull has flagged there will be more women in senior positions of his government. The prime minister also confirmed his new ministry will be sworn-in by the governor-general on Monday.

"There is no greater enthusiast than me for seeing more women in positions of power and influence in parliament," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.



But he refused to reveal whether he planned to remove "a lot of dead wood" from the ministry he inherited from Tony Abbott. "You don't have long to wait."

Mr Turnbull would not comment on reports Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had offered his resignation in the wake of the Liberal leadership wrangle. Defence Minister Kevin Andrews is fighting to keep his job.

He is one of a number of Abbott backers expected to be demoted or axed when the new ministry is unveiled.

"I think that continuity at the moment is quite important in this instance," he told reporters as he confirmed Australian fighter jets had carried out their first strikes on Islamic State targets inside Syria.

As well as operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, publication of the Defence white paper was just weeks away and the department was going through its most significant restructure in early 50 years.

There are reports Education Minister Christopher Pyne has been offered the defence portfolio.

Treasurer Joe Hockey isn't sitting on his hands waiting for Mr Turnbull to decide his future. Amid speculation he will be the highest-profile casualty of the reshuffle, Mr Hockey brought to parliament tax-avoidance measures aimed at big multinational corporates. He also ordered the sale of five additional residential properties unlawfully held by foreign nationals.

And in a press conference at Parliament House a buoyant Mr Hockey adroitly deflected questions about his future.

"No, I am not going to answer that question," he said to a reporter who asked him whether he would still be treasurer next week.

"No, no I am not going to speculate on it, calm down."

But Mr Hockey clearly indicated his willingness to continue in the role, admitting he could always do more to sell his economic message.

"And you can always do more to strengthen the Australian economy," he said. Labor says Mr Turnbull should be making a decision about who he wants as treasurer now, rather than waiting until the weekend.

Opposition MP Ed Husic likened Mr Hockey to actor Bruce Willis in the movie Sixth Sense. "He's talking in the parliament, he's getting impassioned, he wants people to listen to him and no one's paying attention," he told reporters.

"It's like he's just standing there and no one notices he's there any more."

But Mr Hockey's assistant minister said it was right for Mr Turnbull to be taking his time in forming a new frontbench.

"It is absolutely appropriate ... and I'm sure they will be very good decisions," Josh Frydenberg told Sky News. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, another Abbott supporter, said he was looking forward to doing everything he could to support the new prime minister.

"I am a team player, I always have been, always will be," he told reporters. Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who has lost responsibility for water to Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce under a new coalition deal Mr Turnbull brokered with The Nationals, said he very comfortable and confident about his position.

"I am always optimistic, but never presumptive," he told reporters.

Source AAP

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