Australia appoints minister to oversee A$50bn submarine deal

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced his revamped frontbench flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop

Australia's prime minister has created a new ministerial position to deliver a major submarine fleet project.

The move comes in a frontbench reshuffle following Malcolm Turnbull's conservative coalition's recent close-run election victory.

France won Australia's largest-ever defence contract in April beating rival bids from Japan and Germany.

The new defence industry minister, Christopher Pyne, will oversee the A$50bn (€34bn; £29bn) deal.

The decision to build the naval fleet in South Australia - Mr Pyne's home state - is expected to create thousands of jobs and boost the local economy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Former prime minister Tony Abbott did not receive a frontbench position

The prime minister said it would completely transform the defence industry in Australia.

"This is a big change, a big reform, and it requires additional leadership and additional oversight," Mr Turnbull said.

"This programme is vitally important for the future of Australian industry."

The reshuffle otherwise brought in only minor changes, with most key figures staying in their roles.

Despite pressure from some right-leaning elements of his party, Mr Turnbull did not offer a cabinet post to Tony Abbott, the man he ousted as prime minister in 2015.

Meanwhile another former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has announced he has asked the government to nominate him for the post of secretary general of the United Nations.

Mr Turnbull said cabinet would consider the request, which had been widely expected.