Baird Reshuffles Ministry As The Bush Bites Back

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Regional New South Wales will take a front seat in Premier Mike Baird’s new-look Cabinet, announced Wednesday, after rural and regional voters punished their MPs, and a suite of Nationals strongholds performed poorly at the polls.

The government has made sweeping changes across its ministry after 14 regional seats across the state saw swings against them of 15 per cent or more, prompting National Party leader Troy Grant to declare that “regional NSW is back at the heart of government.”

Which doesn’t say much for two National Party MPs – Kevin Humphries and Katrina Hodgkinson – who were dumped from Baird’s new ministry.

Humphries somehow managed to cut his personal vote in the ridiculously safe seat of Barwon – the largest electorate in NSW – by almost half. At the 2011, Humphries received almost 80 per cent of the primary vote. This election he managed less than 50 per cent, and was forced to preferences to claim the seat.

Hodgkinson has also been demoted, losing her Primary Industries portfolio.

They were replaced by newcomers Niall Blair (primary industries, lands and water) and Leslie Williams (early childhood education, Aboriginal affairs, assistant minister for education).

The government says representation for regional communities will be boosted, with nine ministers set to represent them.

“These changes mean regional NSW now has individual ministers responsible for crime and safety, tertiary skills and Aboriginal affairs while maintaining oversight of protecting our precious land and water resources,” Grant said.

Land and water, and their potential contamination by coal seam gas (CSG) mining, were front and centre in the March 28 election, and CSG has been blamed for a National Party defeat in the heartland seat of Ballina.

The Greens, who enjoyed only modest gains across the state as a whole, took out Ballina on an anti-CSG ticket, and may still snatch Lismore from sitting member Thomas George for the same reason.

The regional North Coast will also get a new Parliamentary Secretary, along with other areas such as the Illawarra and South Coast, the Hunter and Central Coast, and western and southern NSW.

There will be new postings for women, too, who will warm five of the state’s 22 Cabinet seats.

“I am particularly proud that Gladys Berejiklian and Gabrielle Upton will become the first women in NSW history to hold the positions of Treasurer and Attorney General,” Baird said.

Berejiklian has moved from transport and Upton was promoted from her previous role as Minister for Family and Community Services.

Veteran MP Jillian Skinner will retain her grip on health – Skinner has served in that portfolio in opposition and government for more than two decades. Pru Goward will become Australia’s first Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, in addition to her role as Minister for Women.

Goward’s previous portfolio, planning, will be taken over by Rob Stokes, who moved from environment, while Berejiklian’s former role as Minister for Transport and Infrastructure will be filled by Andrew Constance (who has been moved from Treasury).

Stokes and Constance will be key in delivering on the $20 billion in infrastructure spending promised before the election, with the government’s cornerstone project, the Westconnex motorway in Sydney, likely to be an important battleground for the government, which now faces an enlarged Labor opposition.

Duncan Gay, who retained his position as Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, will also play an important role in delivering Baird’s Rebuilding NSW package.

Other major changes in the sweeping Cabinet shake-up will see former Attorney General Brad Hazzard moved to Family, Community Services and Social Housing and Troy Grant – himself a former policeman – promoted from Hospitality, Gaming and Racing to Justice and Police.

Parliament is set to resume in May.

 

The NSW Ministry

Troy Grant

 

NAME MINISTRY

Mike Baird 

• Premier
• Minister for Western Sydney

Troy Grant

• Deputy Premier
• Minister for Justice and Police
• Minister For the Arts
• Minister For Racing

Gladys Berejiklian

• Treasurer
• Minister for Industrial Relations

Adrian Piccoli

• Minister for Education

Duncan Gay

• Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight
• Vice-President of Executive Council
• Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council
• Leader of the House in the Legislative Council

Anthony Roberts

• Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy
• Leader of the House

Jillian Skinner

 

• Minister for Health

Andrew Constance

• Minister for Transport and Infrastructure

Brad Hazzard

• Minister for Family and Community Services
• Minister for Social Housing

Rob Stokes

• Minister for Planning

Dominic Perrottet

• Minister for Finance, Services and Property

Gabrielle Upton

• Attorney-General

Pru Goward

• Minister for Mental Health
• Minister for Medical Research
• Assistant Minister for Health
• Minister for Women
• Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

John Ajaka

• Minister for Ageing
• Minister for Disability Services
• Minister for Multiculturalism

Stuart Ayres

• Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events
• Minister for Sport

Victor Dominello

• Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation

John Barilaro

• Minister for Regional Development
• Minister for Skills
• Minister for Small Business

Paul Toole

• Minister for Local Government

Mark Speakman

• Minister for the Environment
• Minister for Heritage
• Assistant Minister for Planning

David Elliott

• Minister for Corrections
• Minister for Emergency Services
• Minister for Veterans Affairs

Leslie Williams

• Minister for Early Childhood Education
• Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
• Assistant Minister for Education

 

Niall Blair

• Minister for Primary Industries
• Minister for Lands and Water

 

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