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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Canberra Liberals reshuffle forms new Opposition cabinet

The Canberra Liberals today announced a cabinet reshuffle following Alistair Coe’s resignation and James Milligan’s return to the Legislative Assembly last month.

Mr Coe’s shadow portfolios of Planning and Land Management and of Sustainable Building and Construction pass to Peter Cain and to Mark Parton. Liberal leader Elizabeth Lee will take Mr Coe’s role as Shadow Treasurer, assisted by Mr Cain.

Mr Milligan resumes his previous shadow portfolio of Sport and Recreation, but also picks up Emergency Services, Vocational Training and Skills, and Disability (previously Jeremy Hanson and Elizabeth Kikkert’s responsibilities).

“I’m fortunate to have a diverse and dedicated team that brings a huge amount of life experience and expertise,” Ms Lee said. “I have no doubts that moving forward we will be able to work together to show Canberra an alternative government for 2024.”

The cabinet reshuffle means that Ms Lee has the same portfolios as Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Mr Barr is Treasurer, and Minister for Climate Action, Economic Development, and Tourism; Ms Lee is Shadow Treasurer, and Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Economic Development, Tourism and Major Policies.

“It is important for the Canberra public to see the alternative Chief Minister,” Ms Lee said. “It isn’t an accident that I have taken on portfolios that will go head-to-head with Andrew Barr.

“There are lots of things in all of those portfolios that we can find common ground on. Where we can, where it’s in the best interests of Canberrans, I will work with the Chief Minister to achieve those outcomes. At the same time, I will not hold back in holding the Chief Minister to account when it comes to issues and concerns that have plagued this very tired, very old, and very stale government for the last 20 years.”

Ms Lee remains Shadow Attorney-General.

“There is going to be a huge raft of law reform on the agenda from the government, and I want to make sure that I keep my finger on the pulse,” she said. “Before my election, I was a trained lawyer … and I still have good connections in that space.”

Mr Milligan said he would continue the Sport and Recreation portfolio where he left off, with Find Your Game, a 10-year strategic plan to improve sports facilities and host more sports events in Canberra.

“The ACT is one of the most active sporting communities in Australia. It’s a good opportunity for us to showcase what we have to offer.

“I really don’t see that the ACT Government’s rectified any of the issues since October last year. They move very slowly on a lot of things.”

In his new portfolios, Mr Milligan said he was keen to meet the service providers, advocacy groups, businesses, organisations, and public to understand their needs and whether the government was underperforming. For instance, he considers bushfire preparedness a government failure, and will focus on it in the Emergency Services portfolio.

As with 2020, Mr Milligan said he would announce overarching policy and initiatives 12 to 18 months before the election, developing them in conjunction with the sector.

“The approach that we took in the Ninth Assembly to Sport Rec and Indigenous Affairs was well received, and we did a fantastic job,” Mr Milligan said. “We listened [to sporting clubs, service providers, and Indigenous space]. We would run drafts through them, and get their feedback. It wasn’t ‘This is what we think’; it was ‘Well, what do you think? Are we getting it right? Are we addressing the issue properly?’ As a result, they were overwhelmingly supported from the community, from the sectors, even by former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.”

Mr Cain brings 20 years’ experience as an ACT government lawyer, managing tax disputes at ACT Revenue Management, and senior roles in the ACT Law Society to the Planning and Land Management and Assistant Treasurer portfolios, “a complex area of great interest and great concern to the Canberra public”, Ms Lee said.

As Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness since 2016, Mr Parton had developed a good network of connections and been a strong advocate, Ms Lee said.

“It makes sense that he would take on the Sustainable Building and Construction portfolio as well.”

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