The main theme out of the latest Cabinet reshuffle is that women should be, and will be, embedded in all areas.
The idea, Minister for Women Marise Payne says, is that for the first time ever women’s issues are going to be treated as a whole-of-government priority.
That means their safety and economic security, among other things.
In essence, it sounds like the government is going to start applying a gender lens — where it looks at how a law will affect women specifically — to its policies, something advocates have long been calling for.
So, how’s it going to do that exactly? Here’s what’s changing.
Minister for Women’s Safety
The changes outlined by Scott Morrison on Monday come in the wake of ongoing scrutiny and attention at the way women are treated not only in politics, but around the country.
To firm up his commitment to keeping women safe, a new portfolio has been created within Cabinet called Minister for Women’s Safety.
Anne Ruston, who’s also the Social Services Minister, will take this on given, as the Prime Minister says, she’s pretty much responsible for it already.
Senator Ruston is also joining the leadership team in the government — the 10 most-senior ministers who meet on a regular basis.
As well as a new portfolio Mr Morrison also announced he was creating a new “Cabinet taskforce”
“To drive my government’s agenda in response to these key issues involving women’s equality, women’s safety, women’s economic security, women’s health and wellbeing,” he said.
It’ll be co-chaired by himself and the Minister for Women Marise Payne.
Exactly how the taskforce will operate isn’t totally clear, but at the table will be every woman in the government’s ministry.
The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Finance Minister Simon Birmingham will also be on the taskforce.
Senator Payne says the taskforce is a way of putting these issues right in front of — literally — the leaders in the government on a regular basis.
Women take on senior ministries
As well as getting everyone in the same room, the Prime Minister has elevated some to the highest ranks in the government.
Michaelia Cash will become the Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister, replacing Christian Porter.
Karen Andrews will be the Home Affairs Minister, as Peter Dutton moves to the Defence Ministry.
Linda Reynolds is staying in Cabinet, switching to Government Services and the NDIS, while Stuart Robert takes Senator Cash’s former employment roles.
“The big change here is this — previous governments, previous Cabinets have had a Minister for Women who is expected to cover every single issue that relates to challenges confronting women in the government,” Mr Morrison said.
“I don’t think that, from experience, is a very constructive way to get outcomes and results for women. The whole government needs that.”
Other extra roles
Continuing in the ‘put women across government’ idea, there are a few other positions that’ve been created to put a greater focus on women’s issues at a portfolio level.
Jane Hume, who’s currently the Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy — but isn’t in Cabinet — will also take on a new position as Minister for Women’s Economic security.
Despite the closing gender pay gap, women retire with considerably less superannuation than men and no doubt this role will see a renewed focus on the issue.
Amanda Stoker, who is the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, adds Assistant Minister for Women and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations.
‘Prime Minister for Women’
As well as co-anchoring the task force, Senator Payne will be what the PM dubbed “the Prime Minister for Women”.
In short, she’s going to be the ringleader for the women now in Cabinet and those that’ll be consulted more broadly as part of the taskforce.
“It is her job to bring together this great talent and experience across not just the female members of my Cabinet team and the outer ministry and executive, but to draw also on the important contributions, especially in areas such as health and services and aged care,” Mr Morrison said.
Senator Payne, who would remain the most senior woman in the government, said the PM was right that women’s issues touched across every portfolio.
One more woman in Cabinet
The Prime Minister said he was pleased that, once again, the representation of women in Cabinet was the highest it had ever been.
But overall the number of women will grow by one — Melissa Price moves back into Cabinet while staying in her Defence Industry portfolio.
As for the other promotions, they’ve all been given to the women already in assistant minister or outer ministry positions, meaning there’s no total increase to the number of women across the teams.
It means the ministry will stay at 27 per cent female. In the federal parliament, 23 per cent of Liberal members are women.