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New Morrison ministry – Ai Group comment

"The changes to the Federal Ministry are substantial and will deliver some important shifts in emphasis to the Government's priorities," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"We have worked very effectively with new Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and his previous experience in the portfolio and consultative approach will serve him well in his new role.

"New Defence Minister, Christopher Pyne, is a welcome appointment especially given his deep understanding of the portfolio through his defence industry role. New Defence Industry Minister, Steven Ciobo, takes on one of the most important industry roles in the Government with defence investments at post World War 2 highs.

"Marise Payne's appointment to Foreign Affairs is a natural move for a very senior cabinet Minister and she takes over a portfolio left in excellent shape through the outstanding leadership of outgoing Minister Julie Bishop. Ms Bishop is a loss to the cabinet and will be a great loss to the Parliament and we thank her for her contribution to foreign policy over the years and outstanding support for business and Australians overseas.

"We welcome the appointment of new Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham, who takes on a busy trade and free trade agenda with immediate attention going to our biggest neighbour, Indonesia, but with many other important agreements on the horizon.

"We look forward to working with Kelly O’Dwyer in the critically important area of workplace relations. There are a series of important bills before the Parliament as well as some problematic recent Court rulings that are challenging and which will require the early attention of the new Minister. The return of the workplace relations portfolio to Cabinet is very welcome. We thank Craig Laundy for his service and wish him well for the future.

"New Education Minister, Dan Tehan, and Minister for Small and Family Business and Skills and Vocational Education, Michaelia Cash, are welcome appointments. As industry transforms to digitalisation it is facing new demands on workforce capabilities. All education and training sectors must produce more highly skilled entrants. The growing skill demand in our economy will be a critical joint focus for them.

"The effective separation of the Immigration Department to stand alone in the new arrangements is a sensible move which will allow for a high priority to be given to this economic portfolio. I look forward to working with the new Immigration Minister, David Coleman, across the range of migration issues of importance to business and through the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration which I chair. Customs is an area which business would also like to see sensibly returned to a stand-alone capacity but that may be something for another day.

"Similarly, while Industry was well served under previous arrangements, the creation of a specific 'industry' minister in Karen Andrews will help provide clarity and direction in the delivery of industry policies.

"Finally, the separation of environment and energy policy is a pragmatic decision which recognises the reality of the current policy impasse. New Ministers Melissa Price and Angus Taylor have key dual roles in settling climate policy and addressing energy affordability and reliability which are essential for business investment. Energy policies around price and reliability are perhaps the key issues facing many in industry," Mr Willox said.


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