Tasmania’s premier will take on responsibility for state development among other portfolios, after reshuffling his cabinet in the wake of months of political turbulence.
Jeremy Rockliff announced on Sunday he would head a combined portfolio of state development, trade and the Antarctic and also don caps for tourism and hospitality.
The premier retains his role as minister for mental health and wellbeing.
Outgoing Community Services Minister Nic Street has been appointed minister for stadia and events in the reshuffle, as well as housing and construction.
Senior MP Guy Barnett will take on the premier’s dropped health portfolio, which Mr Rockliff said the minister was passionate about.
“The decision to hand over the reins of health was not taken lightly but I can make this decision because – despite increasing demand – our health system is in the best place it has been for a very long time,”Mr Rockliff told reporters on Sunday.
“Guy has been a passionate advocate in his past and current ministerial responsibilities and I believe he will also very strongly bring passion and drive to the responsibility of health.”
Tasmanian opposition leader Rebecca White slammed the call and noted energy prices had jumped under Mr Barnett’s watch as energy minister.
“Why would Tasmanians believe he’s going to do a better job as minister for health, particularly given he was so unenthusiastic about his new job he didn’t even turn up to the announcement?”Ms White said.
“Jeremy Rockliff’s attempted ‘reset’ does show he’s right about one thing – Tasmania does need change.”
Mr Rockliff said Tasmania’s economy was “leading the pack” nationally but wasn’t immune to global and domestic economic headwinds.
Inflation, rising interest rates and a slowing national economy prompted him to take on state development and along with it, direct responsibility for the Department of State Growth, he said.
Mr Barnett previously held the portfolio.
The premier said there was enormous potential to grow the state’s Antarctic industry as Tasmanians were leaders in science, research, logistics and service capabilities.
It was important to reunite the tourism and hospitality roles as economic powerhouses, Mr Rockliff said.
The premier flagged a ministerial shuffle on Thursday, conceding his minority government had been “knocked off course” by the crossbench departure of two MPs over Hobart’s contentious stadium plans.
The government plunged into minority on May 12 when Lara Alexander and John Tucker quit the party to become independents.
They raised concerns around transparency over the proposed $715 million waterfront venue, a condition of the AFL granting Tasmania a licence for a team.
The AFL has said the state cannot have a team without the stadium, which still faces two votes in both houses of parliament and a planning commission assessment.
As state development minister, Mr Rockliff will be responsible for the vision for the stadium precinct and its investment, despite Mr Street’s appointment to the stadia portfolio.
In Sunday’s announcement, the premier said Jo Palmer would take on community services and development, while Madeleine Ogilvie would be minister for women and prevention of family violence.
Felix Ellis will take over as Racing Minister from Ms Ogilvie, who endured heavy criticism in the role.
Mr Rockliff said he could only commend Ms Ogilvie for her work across a range of portfolios and every minister faced scrutiny.
Acting Greens leader Dr Rosalie Woodruff said the reshuffle offered nothing for Tasmanians and was a desperate attempt to stave off internal political division.
Ms Ogilvie’s time as racing minister was a “series of catastrophes” and Mr Barnett had not demonstrated a capacity to work with stakeholders, Dr Woodruff said.
The ministers will be sworn in on Tuesday.
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