Two more key Australian ministers on Saturday announced their retirement from politics, ahead of elections in May, amid exodus of leaders from Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Liberal Party in recent weeks.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, considered one of the most moderate politicians in the Morrison administration, announced retirement after 26 years in politics. He said he will not contest polls as he was planning to shift to the private sector.
Minister of Defence Industry Steven Ciobo resigned on Saturday after 17 years in Parliament and said he, too, will not be contesting the election, Efe news reported.
Morrison appointed Linda Reynolds, Australia's first female brigadier in the Army Reserve, as new Minister for Defence Industry, and said her appointment took the number of women ministers in his cabinet to seven, the highest number on record.
"Our government has plans to make Australia even stronger, Linda is part of my team that'll make that happen," Morrison tweeted.
Pyne, in charge of a $200 billion expansion of Australia's military capability, and Ciobo, join a growing number of Liberal ministers who have quit ahead of elections, including former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Minister for Jobs Kelly O'Dwyer, Human Services Minister Michael Keenan and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.
The centre-right government is not a favourite to win the May election and the retirement of senior cebinet members just ahead of polls has complicated its future even further, the report said.
Morrison will need to retain all the parliamentary seats held by his coalition government, but with senior ministers jumping ship it seems a tough battle.
Morrison confirmed the decision of the two ministers in a televised speech, while expressing confidence that public support will help them sail through elections.
Although no dates have been confirmed, Australia must elect before May 19 half of the 76 members of the Senate and will hold elections before November to elect the 151 members of the next House of Representatives.
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