NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been forced to deny her party has a women problem, with a Cabinet reshuffle following her election victory seeing the representation of women drop by one.
In what the Premier said was a combination of “experience and new blood” from “the city and the bush”, Ms Berejiklian announced a number of new portfolios in her ministry with a particular focus on what she called “supporting the most vulnerable”.
Flanked by Deputy Premier and NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro, Ms Berejiklian announced new portfolios of regional youth and regional transport as well as combining energy and environment, which will be taken by Matt Kean.
The Government has separated agriculture and water in to separate portfolios, with Adam Marshall taking the former and Melinda Pavey being promoted to water following former minister Niall Blair’s retirement.
The Premier’s leadership team is largely unchanged, with Dominic Perrottet remaining as Treasurer and Andrew Constance maintaining transport and roads, as well as Leader of the House responsibilities.
David Elliot has been promoted to police and Anthony Roberts will become counter terror and corrective services minister.
“Whether you live in a city, whether you live in the regions every corner of NSW will be serviced by our Government,” the Premier said.
“And we’ve certainly heard what people said to us during and after the election.
“For the first time we’ll have a minister dedicated to water security, for the first time we will have a minister of energy and environment in the same portfolio … it makes sense for us to have those portfolios together.”
Yet the question of women — and their representation in Cabinet — was something Ms Berejiklian was forced to address.
There are five women — including the Premier — in her new 23-person Cabinet, with three women ministers members of the National Party.
There were six women in the previous cabinet.
Former environment and local government minister Gabrielle Upton was dumped from Cabinet.
“There’s a long way to go, but I’m pleased with the progress we’re making,” she said.
“I’m incredibly proud of all the new women coming through the ranks.
“I’ve been able to promote a number of women as parliamentary secretaries, we’ve got at least three new women as parliamentary secretaries.
“I always said I wanted to have a target of 50 per cent, in terms of new members elected to parliament, we’ve got six new members of parliament in the Liberal Party and three are women.
“And I’m thrilled because we’ve actually reached our target.”
The new Disability Services Minister Gareth Ward said he was the first person with a disability ever to hold the portfolio following the Cabinet reshuffle.
The Kiama MP is legally blind and was promoted to Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services.
He said his main focus would be on ensuring everyone can reach their full potential.
“I was somebody growing up who was told I wouldn’t amount to much,” Mr Ward said.
“I’m the first Minister for disabilities to actually have a disability, and I want this to be an example to others who have a disability to know that you can strive to achieve your full potential, whatever that may be.”
Upper House still up in the air
Ms Berejiklian’s reshuffle comes as the makeup of the NSW Legislative Council is still very much an unknown.
According to the ABC’s Legislative Council live results 9.3 per cent of the vote is counted with Labor receiving 32.3 per cent of the vote and seven seats and the Coalition 29.5 per cent with six seats.
The Greens are currently predicted to have two seats and One Nation one along with the Shooters Farmers and Fishers and Liberal Democrats.
According to the calculator three of the 21 seats are in doubt.
The Keep Sydney Open Party, with 2.9 per cent or of the vote, is next in line and in serious running to pick up a seat for its candidate and party founder Tyson Koh.
It ran on a promise of scrapping Sydney’s lockout laws and revitalising Sydney nightlife.
It is followed in the count by the Christian Democrats (2.5 per cent) and Animal Justice Party (2.3 per cent).
However, these are only speculative results and the end result will not be known for weeks.