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Friday, December 4, 2020
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Barr takes on Climate Action in new-look Ministry

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr will lead the flagship Climate Action portfolio, along with Treasury, Tourism, Economic Development, and a Cabinet of nine ministers – six Labor and three Greens – in a “consensus building and collaborative” Legislative Assembly.

Mr Barr said “as first minister”, it was fitting he took the lead on Climate Action, as it reflected Labor’s two biggest election policies – the Big Battery, and Resilient Household Scheme.

Yvette Berry remains Deputy Chief Minister and adds Youth Affairs and Education to her role.

ACT Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury said he was “honoured” to take on the “significant role” of Attorney-General, where he’ll look to reduce incarceration rates, particularly those of Indigenous Australians.

He said he will continue discussions about raising the age of criminal responsibility.

He will also oversee Gambling.

First-time MLAs Emma Davidson and Rebecca Vassarotti join the Cabinet for the ACT Greens.

Both women have their own portfolios and will assist more experienced ministers, in a feature of this parliamentary agreement – cross-party collaboration.

Mr Barr said the agreement was a balance of “continuity and opportunity” and he was happy to have a “fresh set of eyes” on policies.

Ms Davidson becomes Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Disability, Justice Health and Mental Health.

Ms Vassarotti will oversee building quality reforms as Minister for the Environment and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction.

Ms Vassarotti said “climate change and climate readiness” in building quality and construction was important to the community and she was looking forward to working with industry.

“The community has been strong in their concerns about building quality and we need to adapt our buildings to deal with this.”

Mick Gentleman remains Minister for Planning and Land Management, Police and Emergency Services, and gains the Corrections and Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety portfolios.

Mr Barr said Mr Gentlemen’s leadership over the summer of bushfires had earned him a strong personal vote in Brindabella and his additional portfolios were a reflection of the community’s affection for him.

He said Mick Gentlemen and Rebecca Vassarotti would work closely together on the planning portfolio.

“It scars you for life,” Mr Barr smiled. “Everyone has views on planning.

“There is no perfect planning system that will please everyone.”

Rachel Stephen-Smith and Chris Steel keep their portfolios of Health and Transport, respectively.

While Suzanne Orr will not retain her portfolios, the Chief Minister said she had a long parliamentary career ahead of her and would have other opportunities to serve in the executive.

Tara Cheyne has been promoted to Cabinet with the Arts, Business and Better Regulation and Human Rights portfolios.

Mr Barr said he was “delighted” to draw upon the talent and experience from 16 MLAs across the two parties. And while the nine ministers will do a lot of work, there will also be a lot of committee work.

“We’ll forge some new ground here.  We go into this with our eyes open and knowing we have to work together,” Mr Barr said.

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