PM denies cabinet reshuffle 'distraction'

·3-min read

Scott Morrison has rejected suggestions his cabinet reshuffle was designed to distract attention from a political crisis about the treatment of women.

Australian of the Year Grace Tame has accused the prime minister of using the reshuffle to draw attention away from abuses of power in Parliament House.

"We need to be careful not to be naively misled by actions that are quite calculated distractions posing as solutions," she said.

Ms Tame said merely boosting the number of women in cabinet would do nothing to solve deeper issues.

"This is not really a gendered issue. There is an imbalance, women are worse off. But equal representation is not going to address the abuse of power," she said.

"That is at the heart of this, that's what it is, it's abuse of power."

Ms Tame was particularly critical of Amanda Stoker, the new assistant minister for women.

Senator Stoker has supported a controversial commentator who expressed public sympathy for the man convicted of raping Ms Tame when she was a schoolgirl.

The assistant minister has also endorsed a deeply divisive "fake rape crisis tour" of university campuses, opposes abortion and transgender rights.

The prime minister said he respected Ms Tame but did not share her views.

He said Senator Stoker was keen to work with the advocate for victim-survivors of sexual abuse.

"Everybody has got a contribution to make here and we will continue to do that in a respectful way that draws together the experience of women from all walks of life, from all different perspectives," Mr Morrison said.

The reshuffle has done nothing to resolve several other issues confronting the coalition.

Karen Andrews, who was promoted to the home affairs ministry, has been accused of bullying and humiliating a senior female member of staff.

She denies the allegations.

Her promotion to a key domestic security post has also raised eyebrows because Ms Andrews is a professional engineer who has only ever held economic portfolios.

Christian Porter has also copped a backlash after being shifted to the industry, science and technology portfolio.

Research scientists have expressed outrage at the move, given rape allegations levelled against Mr Porter, which he vehemently denies.

Linda Reynolds will also stay on the frontbench - moving from defence to government services - despite mishandling rape allegations raised by former staffer Brittany Higgins.

Labor says the reshuffle does nothing to address the clouds hanging over Mr Porter and Senator Reynolds.

Opposition frontbencher Kristina Keneally also said the ministerial changes did not resolve the controversy surrounding disgraced backbencher Andrew Laming.

Dr Laming is accused of taking an inappropriate photograph of a woman while she was bending over, as well as harassing two female constituents.

But Mr Morrison is resisting pressure to expel the disgraced backbencher because it would plunge the coalition into minority government.

"This is a prime minister that is putting his own power and his own political survival ahead of the principle and the right thing to do," Senator Keneally said.

"We have had minority governments before in Australia. He can manage.

"He should put his principle, as he told us he had, a principle about respecting women, he needs to demonstrate that and remove Andrew Laming from the party room."