Coulton cut from ministry as McKenzie takes on regional comms portfolio

Impacts of Barnaby Joyce's return to the leadership of the Nationals continue to be felt.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Getty Images

Over the weekend, the minor Coalition partner in the Australian government shook up its allocated portfolios, as Joyce backers made returns, and those who stood by the departed leader were also shown the exit.

Filling the portfolio responsibilities of former leader Michael McCormack last week, Barnaby Joyce has taken on Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development which includes being the senior minister to Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher.

In regional communications, Mark Coulton has been dumped for Senator Bridget McKenzie, who takes on a title of Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education and as Minister for Drought and Emergency Management.

"She will have a clear focus on service delivery in regional Australia and be responsible for the continued work developing Australia's disaster management capability," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the weekend.

McKenzie, a Joyce backer, left the ministry after the sports rorts affair, which involved community sporting grants being granted due to being in marginal electorates, rather than being assessed as needed.

In a statement after being dropped and having his pay packet diminished, Coulton said he was "eternally grateful to Michael for bestowing upon me the honour of being a minister".

"The bespoke modern broadband projects we're delivering through the Regional Connectivity Program will set many small towns and villages in good stead, enabling people in those communities to grow their business, access education and importantly connect with family and friends," Coulton said.

"More than 1,220 areas across the country will or already have a new phone tower as a result of our Mobile Black Spot Program to keep them better connected."

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