Australian premier reshuffles cabinet after series of scandals

Sydney, March 29, (dpa/GNA) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a cabinet reshuffle on Monday after a series of scandals that have dented his approval ratings.

Morrison has been facing increasing pressure over his handling of a slew of incidents that have sparked debate about harassment and sexual discrimination.

Peter Dutton will become defence minister and Michaelia Cash will be the new attorney general, replacing Linda Reynolds and Christian Porter respectively.

Reynolds and Porter have been demoted to lower-level cabinet roles.

Questions had arisen over Porter's suitability to carry out his duties as attorney general after he launched defamation action against the Australian broadcaster ABC in response to a story about a historic rape alleged to have taken place in 1988.

He wasn't named but came forward to strongly deny the allegation and went on mental health leave afterwards.

He will become industry, science and technology minister when he returns.

Reynolds recently came under fire for calling Brittany Higgins, a former Liberal party staffer who alleges she was raped by a male colleague at Parliament House in 2019, a "lying cow."

Reynolds said the comments did not relate to the truthfulness of the allegations but to suggestions she had not offered enough support to Higgins at the time. Reynolds has since agreed on a defamation settlement with Higgins.

Reynolds is on health leave, but will take on a government services role on her return.

A poll published by The Australian newspaper the same day showed Morrison's approval rating had dropped from 62 per cent satisfaction to 55 per cent in two weeks.