Morrison backing miners despite reshuffle

·2-min read

Scott Morrison insists his government maintains full support for the mining industry despite the resources portfolio being dumped from cabinet.

The prime minister pinned the decision on Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

And he argued Water and Resources Minister Keith Pitt would be just as effective in the outer ministry.

"Wherever he may sit I know he is the best possible advocate in my government to pursue that job," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

The prime minister tried to drive a wedge between the coalition and Labor when challenged about the demotion.

"I can assure you that people in the resources industry are in no doubt about the difference between the government and the opposition," he said.

Mr Morrison described the National Party's leadership transition from Michael McCormack to Barnaby Joyce as seamless.

The new-look Nationals front bench was sworn in at Government House on Friday, with Mr Joyce's supporters rewarded and his detractors punished.

Victorian senator Bridget McKenzie officially returned to cabinet less than 18 months after quitting over the sports rorts saga.

Joyce backer David Gillespie was rewarded with a promotion, while McCormack supporter Mark Coulton lost his ministerial role.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the Liberal-National coalition was a mess.

"This tail of the National Party has wagged the Liberal Party dog so we now don't have the resources sector in the cabinet," he told the National Press Club.

Mr Albanese took aim at Mr Joyce for replacing Darren Chester as veterans' affairs minister with Andrew Gee, who he said no one had ever heard of.

He also slammed the decision to remove water from cabinet and called for a local government minister.

The deputy prime minister returned as leader of the junior coalition partner three-and-a-half years after being engulfed in scandal over his affair with a staffer and sexual harassment allegations he denies.

Mr Joyce says he hopes he's now a better person.

Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud said if Mr Joyce's behaviour was not up to scratch the Nationals and rural women would have a discussion about his future.

"It should be his actions he is judged by," he told ABC radio.

"We cannot and no one will continue to support somebody that has done the wrong thing."

Mr Littleproud acknowledged some women in regional Australia were unhappy with Mr Joyce's return.

"They've got every right to be upset. Barnaby himself has acknowledged the wrongdoing he has done," he said.

The deputy leader believes Australia should give Mr Joyce another chance.

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