Senator Marise Payne has been sworn in as the first female defense minister in the nation’s history. She is one of five women (more than twice the previous number) in the new cabinet of Malcolm Turnbull, who ousted Tony Abbott as Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Liberal Party. In her new function, she will be overseeing military operations in two countries: Australia’s Royal Air Force is participating in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, while Australian troops are also training Iraqi ground forces. She will also be in charge of several major defense contracts, most notably the lucrative but politically controversial “SEA1000 Future Submarine project.” Payne is the first female defense minister in an English-speaking nation. She currently has female colleagues in three nations: Norway, the Netherlands and Germany — whose defense minister, Ursula Von der Leyen, will speak at the Women in the World Summit in London.
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