Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will be the Acting Prime Minister of Australia next week.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement on Saturday following the High Courts ruling on Friday that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was ineligible to stand at the time of the last election because he was a New Zealand citizen.
Turnbull was forced to make a decision as to who would replace Joyce ahead of a five-day trip to Israel, which he leaves for on Monday.
Turnbull was expected to announce Bishop, deputy Liberal leader, as Acting Prime Minister yesterday following the High Court ruling but failed to reveal who it would be.
“I will be travelling overseas to Israel on Monday to participate in the commemoration of the Battle of Beersheba,” he said on Saturday.
“Julie Bishop will be Acting Prime Minister while I am overseas, and as you know, Nigel Scullion has been appointed interim parliamentary leader of the National Party. Barnaby Joyce remains the Leader of the Federal Nationals but of course he is not currently in the Parliament and therefore the normal order of precedence in terms of Acting-Prime Minister falls to Julie Bishop as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Foreign Minister.”
He also confirmed that despite yesterday’s reshuffle, the government still held the majority in the House of Representatives.
“The government has, in the absence of Barnaby and there are 149 seats represented in the House, the government has 75 of them. That is a majority,” he said.
“We have the support of the crossbench on confidence and supply, and we will continue, as we have done, throughout all of the time since the last election, continue with getting on with the job, of delivering the outcomes.”
Turnbull will act in Joyce’s portfolios of agriculture and water resources.
He also announced that the position of deputy prime minister will remain temporarily suspended until after the New England by-election.
The High Court decision yesterday is an embarrassing result for Turnbull who has been adamant that the court would rule Joyce eligible to sit in the parliament.
Meanwhile, Joyce said he wasn’t surprised by the result, and was prepared for the outcome.
“I’d like to apologise for the inconvenience… of the by-election,” he said, adding that it was likely to occur by December 2.
“I respect the verdict of the court… we live in a marvelous democracy.
“I thank the court for their deliberations.
“I was always apprehensive (about the result)… I am naturally cautious,” he said, adding: “I don’t stand here totally surprised.”
He added: “I had no reason to believe I was a citizen of any other country.”
Tamworth-born Joyce’s father was born in New Zealand, and moved to Australia in 1947, giving his son Kiwi citizenship by descent.
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