Two losers in Malcolm Turnbull’s reshuffle have pre-empted the prime minister’s unveiling of his ministry by announcing their demise.
Kevin Andrews called a news conference to say he had been dumped as defence minister. Earlier, Bob Baldwin, parliamentary secretary to the environment minister, said via social media that he had just been informed he was no longer a member of the executive government.
Andrews, who had publicly fought to keep his job, arguing that continuity was needed in the national security area, said he was disappointed Turnbull had not kept him.
He told reporters: “I am disappointed that Mr Turnbull did not accept my offer to work with him. Frankly, my remaining in this job was not about me - it was all about the stability of our Defence Force in Australia and its leadership.
"Mr Turnbull’s decision now means there have been more defence ministers in Australia than prime ministers in the last three years.”
Andrews, a social conservative, was one of Tony Abbott’s closest allies. He was part of the group who moved against Turnbull in opposition in 2009. Last week he ran against deputy leader Julie Bishop.
He said at his news conference that Abbott had been “loyal to a fault”.
The Liberal Party was a broad church, Andrews said, and for the sake of the party “this broad church must continue”.
Andrews listed what had been done made in his term in the portfolio, which he took over in the pre-Christmas reshuffle. “I am very proud of what has been achieved.”
He said he had already been preselected in his Victorian seat of Menzies and looked forward to standing at the election.