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Wounds need healing after Labor reshuffle

Monday, 21 January 2013
Author: David Washington, Indaily

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PREMIER Jay Weatherill has unveiled an election year Cabinet which leaves the party with some wounds to heal.

As expected, the size of the Cabinet has shrunk by two ministers to 13, and Weatherill has taken on the additional role of Treasurer - the first South Australian Premier to do so since Labor's John Bannon.

Weatherill also takes on the additional portfolios of Arts and the Public Sector, the latter an interesting move given political debate about cuts to public servant numbers.

The losers in the reshuffle include environment minister Paul Caica, who was forced to stand aside from the ministry despite being expected to recontest his seat at the next election.

Education minister Grace Portolesi has been demoted to the portfolios of employment, higher education, skills and science.

Jack Snelling would also count himself as being demoted, being moved from Treasury to Health and Mental Health âÂeÂ" arguably the toughest roles in the Cabinet. He retains responsibility for defence industries and veterans.

Former police minister Jennifer Rankine takes on the education and child development role.

She has a reputation for tough dealing with her bureaucrats and those qualities might have got her the job, given the Premier's stern words about the Education Department in relation to the child abuse scandal which has rocked the government. Rankine keeps her multicultural affairs portfolio.

Tom Koutsantonis is another big winner, taking on former minister Pat Conlon's key roles in transport, infrastructure and housing. Tom Kenyon steps into Koutsantonis's old role in charge of manufacturing, trade, innovation and small business.

New minister Tony Piccolo gets the challenging portfolio of communities and social inclusion, social housing and disability, while fellow newcomer Leon Bignell gets tourism, sport and recreation.

Deputy Premier John Rau, already Attorney-General, planning minister and minister for business services and consumers, picks up the industrial relations portfolio.

Gail Gago, minister for agriculture, food and forests, loses tourism but picks up local government - a role she has played before (anyone remember the Burnside Council inquiry?).

Michael O'Brien, who retains the relatively low profile Finance portfolio, takes on police, emergency services, corrections and road safety.

Ian Hunter also gets a boost in responsibility, taking on environment, water and Aboriginal affairs.

Chloe Fox could see herself as fortunate, adding an assisting role in Arts along to her existing Transport Services portfolio.

Announcing the new team, Weatherill claimed he had selected the team.

He also made explicit reference to Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond's retracted promise to cut public sector numbers.

"This is the new team that will govern this state not just to the next election but for the next five years," Weatherill said.

"It is the team that I have chosen.

"These are challenging times - the effects of the global financial crisis are still being seen around the world and here.

"There are real concerns for South Australian workers and their families. "They are uppermost in my mind and so it is appropriate that I as leader take on this challenge.

"Bringing together my State Development and Treasury roles means we will be best-placed to seize on the opportunities that present themselves to bring about investment in jobs for South Australians and to respond to the challenges that threaten those jobs.

"The biggest of those challenges is to make sure that the Liberals don't get to slash 25,000 public sector jobs."

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