11 December 2023

New portfolios created as part of Barr's pre-election Cabinet reshuffle

| Claire Fenwicke
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Andrew Barr, MLA.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the new Cabinet would renew focus on housing, health, cost of living and infrastructure. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The government’s Cabinet has had a big shake-up as both Labor and the Green get ready for the 2024 election.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced Mick Gentleman will no longer be taking care of planning – that portfolio has been handed to Chris Steel alongside his transport responsibilities.

As a result, Mr Steel’s city services role is going to Tara Cheyne, where she’ll be responsible for delivering the government’s suburban renewal program, delivering better local infrastructure and maintenance across the city, along with her current focus on night-time economy and the arts.

A new portfolio – the Crime Prevention portfolio – has been created for Mr Gentleman, which will “broaden his responsibilities” as police minister.

“This will include a focus on recidivism and the implementation of the National Firearms Register in the ACT,” Mr Barr said.

“Minister Gentleman will also be the new Minister for Business and adds Multicultural Affairs to his portfolio responsibilities.”

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Emma Davidson has lost the disability portfolio, it’s been delegated to Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith.

Mr Barr said this would allow Ms Stephen-Smith to lead the ACT’s engagement with the Federal Government on the joint design of “new disability foundational supports and reforms to the National Disability Insurance Scheme”.

Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti will add parks and land management to her role and is expected to work with Mr Gentleman on reducing bushfire risk in Canberra’s nature reserves and national parks.

Ms Davidson’s current portfolio responsibilities in community services and health will be broadened to include community sector reform and a new portfolio of Population Health.

“This new portfolio will focus on improving health outcomes across our community in both physical and mental wellbeing,” Mr Barr said.

She’ll also be the new corrections minister to align with her existing responsibilities in justice health.

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It’s been promised the re-allocated portfolios will result in a stronger focus on health, housing, cost of living and infrastructure for Canberra.

In the lead-up to the 2024 budget, the government will be establishing a new cost-of-living sub-committee of Cabinet.

“The sub-committee will be tasked with developing proposals that can alleviate financial pressure on Canberrans most impacted by energy, education, health and transport costs during a period of high national inflation,” Mr Barr said.

He added that 2024 was shaping up to be an “exciting year” as work continues on key projects in the government’s infrastructure plan.

“There will be progress on the planning, design or construction of a number of once-in-a-generation projects that will shape our city’s future,” Mr Barr said.

“This includes the new Woden CIT Campus, the Molonglo Valley Bridge, the city theatre precinct, light rail to Commonwealth Park, a new indoor entertainment facility and the health, education and sports precinct in Belconnen.”

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deck chairs. titanic.

John Koundouzis5:11 pm 11 Dec 23

Andrew Barr treats all Canberra’s like idiots. Does he really think a reshuffle is going to make any difference in the incompetent government he runs?
He is just playing musical chairs to look like he is doing something.
Canberrans deserve better.

Still no word about duplicating Athllon Drive. The sign has only been up for about 6 years so I can understand the delay. This is just a reshuffle with people who have failed us so far so how it’s going to.improve anything is beyond comprehension. Still it gives them.a warm and fuzzy feeling thinking this’ll do the trick.

It will be good to have a minister who replies to communications about planning matters. Even acknowledgement of receipt of emails, letters etc would be a step in the right direction. A more open approach will be appreciated.

There’s hope yet. Maybe at least the new Planning Minister will answer correspondence about planning matters.

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