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Australian Foreign Minister resigns under cabinet reshuffle



SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop resigned Sunday from the cabinet of new Prime Minister Scott Morrison, two days after a bloody leadership dispute that toppled former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and led to a general revision.

FILE PHOTO: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrives on August 23, 201

8 at the House of Representatives in Canberra, Australia. AAP / Lukas Coch / via REUTERS

The bishop announced that they would move to the back seat had not yet decided whether the next elections, which should take place until May 2019, are pending. This decision could have serious consequences for the Morrison government, which has a single-seat parliamentary majority.

She served as Secretary of State since 2013 and was replaced by former Secretary of Defense Marise Payne in the new Cabinet Series that Morrison had announced after Bishop's resignation.

Morrison replaced Turnbull in a party room vote after a week of political chaos in Canberra that marked the emergence of Australia's sixth prime minister in less than 10 years.

He took over the post of leader of the Liberal Party, the senior partner in a liberal-national coalition, which has consistently outperformed opinion polls of the opposition Labor Party in recent months.

Bishop denied the election on Friday, but was eliminated in the first round. Morrison then surprisingly became the winner of the compromise against Peter Dutton, Turnbull's conservative challenger, who turned the leadership crisis on its head earlier this week.

"I will stay in the back seat as a strong voice for Western Australia," Bishop said in a statement shortly after she returned to her home state.

BY-SELECTION CONCERN

The possibility that Bishop might leave Parliament before the next election will be a major problem for Morrison, former Treasurer of Turnbull, as it opens up the possibility of another by-election for her seat.

His party will already have to challenge a by-election for Turnbull's port election in Sydney, traditionally a secure liberal seat. Turnbull's resignation from parliament was expected next week.

Morrison's new cabinet includes former Turnbull loyalist Christopher Pyne as the new Secretary of Defense.

Dutton, whose first challenge on Tuesday triggered the crisis that eventually overthrew Turnbull, returns as Home Secretary in an overt attempt by Morrison to rebuild unity in his battered party.

However, his portfolio will no longer include immigration, a politically sensitive topic in Australia because of the tough line that successive governments are seeking against asylum seekers who want to arrive illegally.

This policy includes the detention of asylum seekers in remote Pacific islands, such as Nauru, a policy that has been supported by both sides, but has been severely criticized by the UN and human rights groups.

Morrison had already announced that his Liberal MP, Josh Frydenberg, the former Secretary of Energy, would act as treasurer. He said Angus Taylor, a supporter of Dutton, was the new energy minister.

Senator Mathias Cormann, one of several high-ranking ministers who promised Turnbull their loyalty before they attacked him, will return as Finance Minister to Morrison's new cabinet.

Reporting by Alison Bevege; Edited by Paul Tait

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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