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Australia

Barnaby Joyce Set to Become Infrastructure Minister in Cabinet Reshuffle

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is expected to take on the infrastructure portfolio when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces his Cabinet reshuffle, as early as today.

The Nationals leader currently has responsibility for agriculture, but has been eyeing off the infrastructure job for months.

The move will give him control of the Federal Government’s multi-billion-dollar inland rail project.

Mr Joyce would take the job from Victorian Nationals heavyweight Darren Chester, who has been a strong supporter of same-sex marriage and pushed for more women to take on senior positions in the party.

It is not yet clear who will become agriculture minister or whether Mr Chester will remain in Cabinet.

National Farmers’ Federation chief executive Tony Mahar would not speculate on likely candidates to replace Mr Joyce, but said the reshuffle was “pretty bloody important”.

“Looking forward, if we’re going to be a $100 billion industry, it’s got to be somebody that has the capacity and the willingness to go into bat on all of these issues that we know are going to allow us to take that next step,” he said.

Tension on the track

Bird's eye view of a rail line cutting through green fields
New Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie will be catapulted from the backbench into Cabinet and has been heavily involved in senate inquiries into agriculture issues in the past.

Senator McKenzie’s promotion meant there were three Victorian Nationals in senior positions — which angered some Queenslanders in the party.

The Nationals lost a seat in Parliament when Ms Nash was disqualified by the High Court, but the party is confident it will retain five cabinet spots in the reshuffle.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter is tipped to become the attorney-general and regional Liberal Dan Tehan looks set to be promoted to Cabinet.

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