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Morrison slammed for Pacific job change

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is being criticised for downgrading an international development and the Pacific role in his ministry

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of sending the wrong message to Australia’s Pacific neighbours by downgrading a job that focused on the region and international development.

The responsibility has been relegated to an Assistant Minister’s role, with Anne Ruston taking over the portfolio from former Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Fierravanti-Wells resigned from the front bench last week after criticising Malcolm Turnbull and voting against him in her party’s leadership spill.

But she isn’t happy to see the position downgraded, saying it sends the “wrong signal”.

“I am disappointed that this has happened at a time where we have growing interest and growing contestability in the Pacific region,” she told ABC Radio.

“Downgrading this position does send the wrong signal at a time when we are spending record amounts of overseas development assistance in the Pacific – $1.3 billion.”

Labor Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, also criticised the change, together with Morrison’s choice not to attend the Pacific Island Forums in Nauru this week.

“Those are not the actions of a leader nor a government that recognises the importance of the Pacific to Australia,” Wong told ABC Radio.

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