Ken Wyatt, the first Indigenous member of Cabinet and the first Indigenous Minister for Indigenous Australians, wore a traditional Indigenous kangaroo skin coat as he took the Oath of Office and he also made history by being the first cabinet minister to wear a kangaroo skin to a function in the Governor-General’s official residence.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on May 29, 2019

The new Australian Government has been sworn in by Australia’s Governor-General at his residence in Yarralumla, Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has been returned to power with a forecast 77 seats and a possible 78, asked ministers to stand to welcome Ken Wyatt as the first Indigenous member of Cabinet and the first Indigenous Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Wyatt wore a traditional Indigenous kangaroo skin coat, as he took the Oath of Office and he also made history by being the first cabinet minister to wear a kangaroo skin to a function in the Governor-General’s official residence. The traditional kangaroo skin, called a “booka” was given to him by the Noongar people of southwest WA.

“Can I ask all those, other than His Excellency, of course, to stand to welcome the first indigenous member of Cabinet – the Honourable Ken Wyatt AM, MP, as Minister for Indigenous Australians,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

In 2010 Wyatt, of Yamatji-Wongi-Noongar descent, became the first Aboriginal man to be elected to the House of Representatives, winning the Western Australian seat of Hasluck. He wore the booka for his maiden speech in Federal Parliament.

In another first for the new government, Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie becomes Australia’s first female Agriculture Minister. Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash has additionally been given added employment.

The new Cabinet has a record number of women in Cabinet, with two others joining the ranks of the outer ministry – Assistant Minister for Superannuation and Financial Services Jane Hume and Assistant Minister for Regional Development Nola Marino.

The two new female faces in Cabinet are new Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne adds Women to her portfolio. Western Australian senator Linda Reynolds has replaced a retiring Christopher Pyne as Defence Minister.

“The calibre of women in Scott Morrison’s cabinet defies aesthetics,” Senator Hume told The Australian.

“Make no mistake, I’m not here for my skirt, I’m here for my experience, and the contribution I can make to a sector that is critical to the Australian economy.”

Morrison’s frontbench received an Australian flag stickpin, which Morrison has worn daily since taking up the Liberal leadership in August 2018.

Newly appointed Opposition leader, the Labor Party’s Anthony Albanese, refused to say whether former leader Bill Shorten would serve in his inner or outer ministry, adding: “I will treat him with the appropriate respect”.

The Labor caucus will meet tomorrow to nominate members for Labor’s executive, with Albanese then allocating portfolio positions.

He said his shadow cabinet would be revealed on Sunday, or Monday next week.

Albanese said: “I’ve made a number of my views very clear to the caucus, for example, Kristina Keneally will be part of my team as far as I’m concerned”.

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