Girls to the front! Labor to promote women to key cabinet roles

Anthony Albanese expected to rebalance the Labor government this week by promoting women to key ministerial roles.

Today, women will be given key roles in the federal government in a set of Labor factional meetings, which will promote Clare O’Neil from Victoria and Jenny McAllister from NSW as cabinet ministers.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese awaits faction decisions on who will enter the cabinet before delegating people to the home affairs and environment posts, after which the full ministry will be sworn in at Government House on Wednesday.

Anthony Albanese NSW Government Labor
Credit: AP images.

Albanese said “respect” would be core to his governing style, but he urged Dutton to accept Labor’s mandate on key policy issues.

“I’ll treat Peter Dutton with respect if we can get some agreement from him. That would be good on measures that we have a mandate for,” he told Sky News.

“I think he needs to respect the mandate that we have on a range of areas that are very clear, and we want to get to work on that.”

Labor has vowed to legislate a national integrity commission by the end of the year as well as reinforcing childcare and upgrading Australia’s electricity grid.

A key decision for Labor will be the appointment of a new senior minister to the families and social services portfolio, held by Linda Burney, so she can focus on her Indigenous Australians portfolio, given Albanese’s prioritising of a Voice to Parliament, which asserts indigenous Aboriginal constitutional recognition.

Whether to shrink the cabinet from 23 to 21 positions is yet to be decided, while contenders for key posts await to discuss options with Albanese. This will be decided with the gathering of the factions in Parliament house today followed by a caucus meeting on Tuesday.

The Right are expected to name O’Neil as the replacement for Kristina Keneally, who lost her bid for the seat of Fowler, while the Left is expected to name McAllister as the replacement for Terri Butler, who lost her seat of Griffith to the Greens.

Optimistically, the factional decisions place McAllister, a founder of the Labor Environment Action Network, on track for the environment portfolio, but others expect her to be assigned to a social services ministry.

Liberal MPs will assemble in Canberra on Monday to elect new leader Peter Dutton and deputy leader Sussan Ley. Dutton will name his shadow ministry later in the week, with widespread change due to five frontbench vacancies.