I am pleased to announce the following changes to the Coalition’s shadow ministry arrangements.

The Hon. Luke Howarth MP will become the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Financial Services. Luke understands that small business is the backbone of the Australian economy. He has previously run a family business before entering Parliament and has a strong understanding of the financial pressures many Australians are currently experiencing under the Government’s cost of living crisis. Luke will bring his strong command of retail economics to this important role.

Mrs Melissa McIntosh MP is promoted to the shadow ministry as the incoming Shadow Minister for Energy Affordability and Shadow Minister for Western Sydney. Melissa understands the trainwreck of energy policy under Chris Bowen and Anthony Albanese, and she will work closely with Ted O’Brien MP in formulating policies that take the economic pressure of rising electricity prices off families – exactly the opposite of what the Government’s ‘renewables-only’ policy approach is doing.

Western Sydney is an economic powerhouse, but it’s a region that the Albanese Government has ignored. The Coalition has Western Sydney’s back, in a way that the Government does not, and Melissa’s insights into understanding this region will be important to formulating economic and social policies that make a difference for this community.

Senator James Paterson will become the Shadow Cabinet Secretary. This is a critical role, and James will bring to it his shrewd political acumen and perceptive policy mind towards shaping the forward policy agenda for the Coalition as we head to the next election. This new role for James is in addition to his existing portfolio responsibilities in the shadow Home Affairs portfolio, where he continues to hold a hapless Minister and Government to account for their demonstrable failures in national security and community safety.

In addition to his existing portfolio responsibility as Shadow Minister for Defence, the Hon. Andrew Hastie MP will assume additional responsibility as the Shadow Minister for Defence Industry and Defence Personnel. At a time when we face the most dangerous strategic environment in living memory, Andrew’s experience as a fighter for our nation – both on and off the battlefield – will be critical in holding the Government and its mounting failures in defence and defence industry to account.

Further, another fighter for our nation, Phillip Thompson OAM MP will add Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence Industry and Defence Personnel to his existing portfolio responsibilities as Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence. With the Deputy Prime Minister at war with the Department of Defence, and failing to boost the capability and lethality of our Australian Defence Force (ADF) and losing the crucial battles in the Expenditure Review Committee and the National Security Committee, I am pleased that Andrew and Phil will lead our strong shadow ministerial team in the crucial Defence portfolios to hold the Government to account and to get better outcomes for our men and women in uniform.

Senator Andrew Bragg will become Shadow Assistant Minister for Home Ownership. Andrew’s astute policy mind and advocacy will stand him in good stead for this critical portfolio area for the Coalition under my leadership.

Mr James Stevens MP will become Shadow Assistant Minister for Government Waste Reduction. At a time when the Government is spending an additional $209 billion in its recent budgets, employing an additional 10,000 public servants in Canberra, and setting up dodgy off-budget Funds, James will be holding the Albanese Government to account on its wasteful spending and economic mismanagement.

Senator Paul Scarr will become Shadow Assistant Minister for Multicultural Engagement. Paul has a deep commitment to community service and has worked closely with many multicultural organisations during his time as Senator, and he understands the needs and aspirations of our vibrant and diverse multicultural communities. He will work closely with Jason Wood MP to ensure our multicultural communities continue to have their voices heard within the Federal Coalition.

Senator Hollie Hughes will become the Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, and Shadow Assistant Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Hollie will bring her considerable talent to this important social policy role within the Coalition.

These appointments are excellent additions to the Coalition’s stable and united team. I can assure all Australians that the Coalition under my leadership will continue focussing on the policy issues that matter.

We have a Prime Minister who has been distracted by his divisive $450 million Voice referendum for the last 18 months, and who has failed to address the cost of living crisis faced by Australians. He has his priorities all wrong.

The Coalition, on the other hand, will continue to deliver the positive plans and policies for the future of our country in the lead-up to the next election.

The appointments I make today strengthen our team as we approach that critical task ahead.