Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee has announced a minor reshuffle of her party’s shadow cabinet following the recent election of Liberal MLA for Murrumbidgee Ed Cocks.
Mr Cocks, who was appointed to the Assembly following the resignation of Giulia Jones in May, will take on the shadow portfolios of Mental Health, Jobs and Workplace Affairs, and Regulatory Services.
Mrs Jones had already stepped down from her role as deputy party leader in late January and had been on leave. She has cited a need to spend more time with her family and focus on her health as her reasons for the change.
Ms Lee said today Mr Cocks brought a wealth of experience to the Assembly with him, particularly due to his time working in the Commonwealth Department of Health with a strong focus on mental health.
“As policy convener for the Canberra Liberals, Ed also played a big role in keeping public service jobs in the ACT and I know he will hit the ground running in all his portfolios,” Ms Lee said.
Mr Cocks said it was a privilege to take on the portfolio responsibilities and join the Shadow Cabinet.
“I have been passionate about improving our mental health system for a long time and dedicated much of my APS career to developing mental health policy,” he said.
“Canberrans face significant barriers to accessing mental health care in the ACT, and I look forward to contributing to positive, practical solutions.
“I also look forward to taking on the Shadow Ministries of Jobs and Workplace Affairs and Regulatory Services to ensure we have regulatory systems that work for Canberrans, not against them; make their lives easier; and provide opportunities for great jobs and careers as our city grows,” Mr Cocks said.
In an interview with Region earlier this month, Mr Cocks said he was passionate about improving access to mental health care due to his own experiences seeing people close to him require help.
“Over time, I’ve seen it impact a lot of people, from close friends to family. My first encounter with someone who was suicidal was a good friend of mine in college, and before that, another friend’s brother had committed suicide,” he said.
“I just feel like for a long time, the impact of mental health went completely unrecognised. When I was out door-knocking, I saw how many people wanted improvements in mental health because everyone knows someone who is struggling.”
Mr Cocks also spoke about his desire to reduce red tape and regulations to make people’s lives easier, not more difficult. He said service delivery was an area in which he believed the current Labor-Greens Government was letting Canberrans down.
“People feel like the government has walked away from them in all sorts of ways. Our education system is struggling … our health system is behind and local infrastructure has been let go, or priorities have been neglected,” he said.
“The current state that we find ourselves in is the completely predictable result of a whole lot of policy decisions that the ACT Labor government has made.”
The Canberra Liberals Leader announced this year’s first major reshuffle of the party’s shadow portfolios when Mrs Jones resigned from the role of Deputy Leader.
Mrs Jones’ Health and Wellbeing portfolio went to Leanne Castley,
Mr Cocks has now acquired Regulatory Services and Jobs and Workplace Affairs from Peter Cain and Mental Health from Ms Castley – the latter of whom will retain Health and Wellbeing.
Mrs Jones’ former Multicultural Affairs and Early Childhood Education portfolios have now been assigned to Mr Cain and Deputy Leader Jeremy Hanson, respectively.