Jacinta Allan becomes deputy prime minister in election reshuffle

Senate Member Harriet Shing, who represents East Victoria, will take on the equality and regional development portfolios, replacing Mary-Anne Thomas, who will become health minister.

Shing was overlooked by her left-wing faction last time, which frustrated Andrews who has supported her elevation to the cabinet.

Pascoe Vale MP Lizzie Blandthorn becomes planning minister and takes on the tactical role of public affairs manager in the House of Representatives.

Left-wing faction member and former Cabinet Secretary Sonya Kilkenny, Carrum’s member, to be sworn in as minister for corrections, juvenile justice, victim support, as well as fishing and boating

Outgoing Corrections Secretary Natalie Hutchins will take on the education portfolio. The current Secretary of State for Transport, Ben Carroll, will become the Coordinating Minister of the Department of Jobs, Territories and Regions, taking on the portfolios of support and recovery for industry and business districts.

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Treasurer Tim Pallas adds commerce to his duties, and Anthony Carbines becomes secretary of crime prevention, racing and policing, previously held by Lisa Neville.

Melissa Horne will take over the local government portfolio and Senate Member Gayle Tierney will add agriculture to her existing responsibilities for training and skills and higher education.

Five MPs – Enver Erdogan, Sheena Watt, Nina Taylor, Christine Couzens and Darren Cheeseman – will join the ranks of parliamentary secretaries.

The Victorian Labor caucus met on Saturday to effectively tick off the new ministerial appointments after faction meetings that decided the make-up of Andrews frontbench.

The uproar in the election year was sparked by the resignation on Friday of former Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister James Merlino, and three other senior MPs: Health Secretary Martin Foley, Police Secretary Lisa Neville and Industry, Tourism and Sports Secretary Martin Pakula.

The exodus of four senior ministers comes just months after Planning and Housing Secretary Richard Wynne announced his resignation late last year.

A total of 19 Labor MPs have been fired or dumped from parliament since 2018.

(LR) James Merlino, Martin Foley, Lisa Neville and Martin Pakula have announced their retirement.

(LR) James Merlino, Martin Foley, Lisa Neville and Martin Pakula have announced their retirement.

The Caucus was under pressure to choose a woman for the role, but Allan is from the Prime Minister’s Socialist left-wing faction, which now controls Victorian Labor’s two main roles, leading to accusations by some caucus members that the move would consolidate Andrews’ power over the party.

But her elevation was supported by key right-wing factional figures, including treasurer Tim Pallas, and was part of a wider factional agreement that saw Dimopoulos and Brooks – both from Labor’s Right – enter the cabinet.

Andrews denied that the move would give his Socialist-left faction too much influence over the government, claiming there had not always been a “balance” between the left and right in leadership teams of previous Labor governments.

“My verdict is that the best person should get the job,” he said.

He described Allan’s promotion as “excellent” and said his five new ministers have brought diversity and new experience to his cabinet.

In the past, faction arrangements often sought to ensure that the deputy role was filled by an MP from a faction other than the Prime Minister, although that is not always the case.

Labor insiders, who wish to remain anonymous to discuss party affairs openly, said it was expected that a left-right balance in the top two would be restored once Andrews steps down.

Several Labor MPs said the biggest opposition to Allan’s rise came from members of the left-wing faction who viewed her promotion as an obstacle to their own careers.

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While faction groups are given a certain number of cabinet seats and put forward candidates, Andrews allocates portfolios. The new cabinet will be sworn in on Monday during a ceremony in the Government.

Andrews said elections in November would be close and he did not take Labor reelection for granted, despite leading the polls.

“The state elections will be close, they always are. It’s a handful of votes for a handful of seats. We come up with a positive and optimistic plan.”

If Labor wins, Andrews said he will serve a full term.

The opposition took the retirements and factional regrouping as a sign of instability within the government.

“It’s a one-man show from Dan,” said Liberal deputy leader David Southwick.

“This is not a renewal, this is an uprising – people are leaving because they are tired of Daniel Andrews.”

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