VICTORIAN Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie has been elevated to the federal cabinet as minister for sport, rural health and regional communications.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the move during a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, which included a major shift for regional ministerial responsibilities.
Ms McKenzie, who has an office in Hargreaves Mall in Bendigo, was named as the Nationals’ deputy leader earlier this month and has now been elevated to the ministry from the backbench.
In addition to the sport portfolio, she takes on the ministerial responsibilities of former Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash who was disqualified from parliament during the dual-citizenship scandal.
Ms McKenzie taught physical education at Yarram Secondary College in Gippsland and is a widely-known supporter of gunowners’ rights. She also abstained from voting in the same-sex marriage vote this month.
As minister for regional communications, she will be in charge of the Sky Muster satellite as part of the National Broadband Network. Other NBN connections, such as fibre-to-the-node, fall under the minister for communications Mitch Fifield.
Barnaby Joyce returned to the cabinet as infrastructure minister, replacing the dumped Victorian Senator Darren Chester, and Queensland Senator David Littleproud will become minister for agriculture and water.
The dumping of Mr Chester drew criticism from the Victorian government, who described him as a “loyal Victorian” who was “paying a price for standing up for our state”.
Damian Drum – the former Bendigo-based state member for Northern Victoria, and current federal member for Murray – will become the assistant minister to the deputy prime minister.
Wannon MP Dan Tehan will become the minister for social services.