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Ministerial reshuffle triggered by Mathias Cormann’s resignation to pursue top job at OECD

Senator Cormann is Australia’s longest-serving Finance Minister, having served in the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments since 2013. He is one of only four original cabinet members along with Mr Morrison, Peter Dutton and Greg Hunt.

Senior government sources say Mr Morrison does not want wholesale portfolio changes but a number of the current team could switch portfolios. His assistant minister, West Australian Ben Morton, was viewed as a leading candidate to fill Senator Cormann’s cabinet position but senior government sources have told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he won’t be considered.

Mr Hunt and his Victorian colleagues Dan Tehan and Alan Tudge are among the contenders to take the trade role while it had previously been speculated Mr Dutton could moved to the defence portfolio, with either Linda Reynolds or Stuart Robert to potentially replace him in Home Affairs.

Mr Morrison could also be faced to make a decision about the future of David Coleman, who has been absent from the immigration portfolio because of personal reasons for more than 12 months.

Mr Morrison said on Thursday morning Senator Cormann, who had announced his intention to retire by the end of the year, was ideally suited for the role.

“Mathias’s seven-year experience as our longest serving Finance Minister, Belgium-born, French-German and Flemish to boot, I think ideally equips him for the challenging role of the Secretary-Generation of the (OECD),” he said.

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“The OECD brings together most of the European economies, but it also brings together the economies of North America and the Asia-Pacific as a truly global organisation and a voice from the Asia-Pacific which will increasingly be the centre of the global economy,” he said.

Senator Cormann, the most senior West Australian member of the government, said it was a great honour to be nominated for the position.

“The OECD is without any doubt one of the most consequential international economic policy and governance bodies in the world today,” Senator Cormann said.

“Through its work over the past six decades, it makes a difference to the lives, the daily lives, of billions of people all around the world.”

If successful he would be just the sixth secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the first from the southern hemisphere.

He would replace Angel Gurria of Mexico who has been in charge of the organisation since 2006, covering both the global financial crisis and the current coronavirus pandemic. The new term begins on June 1, 2021.

Mr Morrison briefed Labor leader Anthony Albanese of his intention to nominate his colleague prior to his announcement, with the Opposition expected to lend its support to the bid.

He faces a large field of opponents for the position. He said as a veteran of preselection contests, he was not taking anything for granted.

“I look forward to participating in that great democratic exercise which is Senate estimates for the final two weeks of October. And after that I give you this commitment: I will do everything I can to help secure, successfully secure, the position for which Australia has been kind enough to nominate me here today,” he said.

“And then it will be a matter for the decision-makers to make a judgement on who they think is best equipped to lead the OECD moving forward.”

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