Leader of Australia’s Biggest State Economy Shakes Up CabinetBy
Berejiklian unveils new ministerial lineup for New South Wales
New portfolio to oversee A$16.8 billion Sydney road project
Gladys Berejiklian, the new leader of Australia’s largest state economy, unveiled her Cabinet on Sunday -- replacing some of her most experienced ministers as she attempts to reset the government.
The New South Wales premier made changes to core roles including health, education and roads and announced a new portfolio to oversee a multi-billion motorway project in Sydney. Dominic Perrottet will move from finance to succeed Berejiklian as state Treasurer.
Berejiklian, 46, was elected unopposed as premier by party lawmakers earlier this month after Mike Baird unexpectedly quit after less than three years in the job. The nation’s first female Liberal state premier repeated her pledge to focus on three key policy areas: the economy, housing affordability and local infrastructure.
“Our new team will work hard to make life easier for people right across” the state, Berejiklian said in a statement, in which she pledged to improve services and infrastructure for people living in rural areas.
Veteran lawmaker Duncan Gay, who was dropped as roads minister, said he was now considering retiring from politics. Jillian Skinner, who was health minister for six years, announced on Friday she was quitting parliament after reportedly being told she would lose the role. Her resignation will trigger a by-election that may prove an early test of Berejiklian’s popularity.
New South Wales accounts for almost one-third of Australia’s gross domestic product, from the financial hub of Sydney to the world’s biggest coal-exporting port in Newcastle.
Sydney is struggling to cope with a growing population and it was recently named Australia’s most-congested city, with seven of the nation’s 10 slowest roads. It’s also in the midst of a housing boom that’s putting pressure on the state government to release more land for development on the city’s outskirts.
Under the Liberal-National coalition, New South Wales has embarked on a program of electricity asset sales to help repay debt and build new infrastructure. The spending spree includes the A$16.8 billion ($12.7 billion) WestConnex motorway in Sydney, which Berejiklian said Sunday is Australia’s largest infrastructure project. Stuart Ayres, the minister for Western Sydney, will also oversee the new WestConnex portfolio.
Among the other Cabinet roles announced Sunday are:
- Health Minister Brad Hazzard
- Counter Terrorism Minister David Elliott
- Roads Minister Melinda Pavey
- Education Minister Rob Stokes
- Planning Minister Anthony Roberts
Berejiklian said the new counter terrorism role was required to ensure closer coordination between the state and federal government.