Tony Abbott has wielded the axe on an action-packed first day as the nation's 28th Prime Minister, sacking three top mandarins regarded as too close to the former Labor administration.
The dramatic gesture was designed to stamp his authority on the government and came as he led his first full ministry meeting, chaired his first cabinet meeting and, in between, spoke on the phone to the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
Mr Abbott also convened his first meeting of the National Security Committee late on Wednesday.
''From today, the Immigration Department will immediately cease granting Permanent Protection Visas to illegal boat arrivals,'' he said.
It would also start the process of reintroducing Temporary Protection Visas, ''which will deny permanent residency to those who have already arrived illegally by boat prior to the Papua New Guinea resettlement arrangement''.
The government on Wednesday released the fine print of its ministerial arrangements to reveal that Mr Abbott, criticised for naming just one woman in his cabinet, had taken primary responsibility for women's issues - that is, ''women's policies and programs''.
Earlier, speaking to his full team, Mr Abbott said they were all conscious of the ''extraordinary honour'' bestowed on them.
As well as dumping the three senior public servants, two more heads will also go after the May budget - one having stepped aside for other opportunities, AusAID boss Peter Baxter, and another, Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson, who will leave in mid-2014. The heads of the departments for Agriculture, Industry and Innovation, and Resources, Energy and Tourism have gone.
The Labor Party leadership hopeful Bill Shorten said the public service changes showed the new government was already on the wrong track. ''Sacking people , not promoting women, is not the best start I've ever seen,'' he said.
The architect of Labor's Malaysian transfer agreement, the dumped agriculture departmental secretary Andrew Metcalfe had angered some in the Coalition when, as the then head of the Immigration Department, he had said that the Abbott policy of turning around asylum seeker boats at sea was unworkable.
Industry boss Don Russell had long been seen as a Labor appointment.
The Resources, Energy and Tourism head, Blair Comley, was also closely associated with Labor's carbon pricing as head of the since dissolved Department of Climate Change.
In contrast to his male-heavy ministerial team, three of the five new appointments have gone to women, although only one of those, Renee Leon, is new to the top level of the public service.
Discussion at the historic first meeting of the cabinet was expected to centre on scrapping the carbon tax, equipping Operation Sovereign Borders, and scrapping the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
Industry groups have begun the rapid adjustment to the new order, with Universities Australia trying to find the bright side of no longer having its own science minister.
''Linking science and research with industry policy under the Minister for Industry, acknowledges the role of science and research in driving national productivity,'' said Belinda Robinson, the body's chief executive officer.