Regional MPs feature heavily in Abbott's first Cabinet

REGIONAL development will be a key focus of the new Coalition Cabinet, with four regional MPs making the cut for Tony Abbott's first Cabinet announced on Monday.

Mr Abbott named Deputy Prime Minister-elect Warren Truss as Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, marking the elevation of the portfolio to the country's second highest political office.

The Coalition Cabinet line-up also features three other regional MPs: Barnaby Joyce, who will hold agriculture; Nigel Scullion for indigenous affairs and Ian Macfarlane for Industry.

Mr Abbott has also given nearly a quarter of the ministry portfolios to MPs from regional areas, including Luke Hartsuyker as Assistant Minister for Employment; Senator Fiona Nash as Assistant Minister for Health, and Sussan Ley assisting in education.

Supporting the key front-bench portfolios from regional areas will be Senator Richard Colbeck, assisting in agriculture and Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells assisting in social services.

Two other regional MPs were also named parliamentary secretaries - Darren Chester for defence and Michael McCormack for finance.

Most of the senior positions will be filled by MPs who were already on the leadership team in opposition.

Joe Hockey will be Treasurer, Senator Eric Abetz Minister for Employment and Senator George Brandis Attorney-General.

Mr Abbott also officially endorsed Bronwyn Bishop for the coveted role of Speaker of the House, relegating the experienced Bruce Scott, who has held the deputy role, to the backbench.

And despite talk of Mr Abbott considering Mal Brough for a return to the front-bench, the former Howard government Minister will sit on the backbench.

Mr Abbott said he did not want to contribute to what he called "title inflation", or complex names for ministerial portfolios.

He said rather than naming people for areas like tourism, science and higher education, such areas would come under the responsibility of lead portfolios of education and industry.

The Prime Minister Elect also said he would not recall parliament for some weeks, saying he wanted to ensure a full legislative agenda was ready before the 44th Parliament sits for the first time.

He said the first order of business would be repealing the carbon tax, and he had been "deep in meetings" with senior public officials sorting out how to make changes.

Mr Abbott said he had already written to Governor-General Quentin Bryce to swear in the new government this Wednesday.

While scant on details, he also said the Coalition's approach to border protection - Operation Sovereign Borders - would start as soon as the government was sworn in this week.



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