TONY Abbott has appointed his new ministry yesterday, including just one woman on his front bench and 18 men.
The Prime Minister-elect yesterday announced his new cabinet in Canberra, with Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop the only woman.
Locally, Liberal Senator Michael Ronaldson kept the veteran’s affairs portfolio he held in opposition, joining the federal government’s outer ministry.
He will also be Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the ANZAC centenary and Special Minister for State.
The ex-Ballarat MP was a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Development during the Howard government years.
Senator Ronaldson’s elevation to the ministry comes after current Ballarat MP Catherine King held the regional Australia portfolio in the Rudd government cabinet.
Nationals leader Warren Truss will get the new regional development portfolio, while Barnaby Joyce will take on the job of Agriculture Minister.
However, the gender imbalance in Mr Abbott’s front bench has already come in for strong criticism from women’s groups, who are calling for equal representation quotas in politics.
Mr Abbott said he was “disappointed” adding there were talented women “knocking on the door” of the cabinet and ministry.
That door would be opened “as time goes by”, he said.
“This is one of the most experienced incoming ministries in our history,” he said.
“You’ll see there is enormous stability in this team but there has been as well some significant promotions.”
The Labor opposition has already launched its attack on the male-dominated cabinet, with acting leader Chris Bowen calling it a sad day for the nation.
He said Australian had gone backwards.
“The cabinet of Afghanistan now has more women (three) in it,” Mr Bowen said.