9 Dec 2009

New Opposition front bench in Australia

3:35 pm on 9 December 2009

Australia's new Opposition leader Tony Abbott has unveiled a new frontbench promising to take on the Government.

Mr Abbott said his new line-up was a campaigning team which would give the Government the "fright of its life".

The reshuffle was needed after Mr Abbott last week ousted Mr Turnbull as Liberal leader following a revolt against his support for an emissions trading scheme.

The ABC reports key supporters of his challenge were rewarded in a reshuffle announced on Tuesday.

Mr Abbott has installed climate change sceptic Nick Minchin in the energy and resources portfolio, while Eric Abetz will take on workplace relations.

He also brought back former Howard government ministers Kevin Andrews, Bronwyn Bishop and Philip Ruddock.

Announcing the changes Mr Abbott acknowledged that Mr Andrews, Ms Bishop and Mr Ruddock had been "controversial" and "polarising" as ministers, but said they were "substantial" politicians.

As expected, Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce will move to the frontbench to go head-to-head with Lindsay Tanner in the finance portfolio.

Ms Bishop will be spokesperson for seniors, Mr Andrews spokesperson for families and Mr Ruddock secretary to the shadow cabinet.

Julie Bishop, Joe Hockey, Christopher Pyne, Peter Dutton and George Brandis remain in their respective portfolios of foreign affairs, treasury, education, health and shadow attorney-general.

David Johnston will also stay in defence.