FOLLOWING the finalisation of a Parliamentary Agreement between ACT Labor and the ACT Greens, the ACT Government last week unveiled a 'refreshed' Ministerial team, with the re-elected Andrew Barr continuing as Chief Minister.
Mr Barr said he was delighted to welcome two new Labor Ministers to the team – Rachel Stephen-Smith and Gordon Ramsay. The pair will join Mr Barr, Yvette Berry, Meegan Fitzharris, Mick Gentleman and Shane Rattenbury in the Cabinet.
"This team will start work from today on implementing a number of the commitments we made to the people of Canberra. I will continue as Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events – ensuring our economy continues to diversify and attract new investment," Mr Barr said.
"Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry will take on the new portfolio of Education and Early Childhood Development, and will be focused on implementing Labor's education promises, which includes advocating for needs based school funding and providing all high school students in ACT Public Schools with a device to enhance their learning. The Minister will also ensure that the ACT continues to fund the Safe Schools program.
"Minister Berry will continue her role as Minister for Housing and add Suburban Development, which includes developing a new Affordable Housing Strategy to deliver more affordable housing options.
"Minister Berry will also continue as Minister for Women and the newly created portfolio of Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, representing the ACT Government in the national debate on how to reduce the impact of violence in the home.
"Minister Meegan Fitzharris will be responsible for implementing Labor's ten year health plan – including three new nurse-led walk in centres and the expansion of the Canberra Hospital.
"Minister Fitzharris will also start work on stage 2 of Canberra's city wide light rail network from the City to Woden. As the Minister for Transport and City Services, she will also be tasked with boosting active travel – coordinating through the Active Travel Office the rollout of $30 million in additional priority footpath maintenance, cycling and walking route upgrades, and age-friendly suburb improvements in our shopping centres and existing suburbs.
"Minister Mick Gentleman will take on a greater role in the further development of our city – overseeing the creation of our urban villages and garden suburbs. Minister Gentleman will focus on improving the Government's planning process, consultation and outcomes, and will establish a container deposit scheme as promised by Labor during the campaign. Minister Gentleman will also be responsible for Police and Emergency Services.
"Newly-elected Minister Gordon Ramsay will use his legal experience as the Territory's new Attorney-General. Minister Ramsay will also take on the new portfolio of Regulatory Services which encompasses Gaming and Racing regulation.
"Minister Ramsay will also continue the work of former Minister Dr Chris Bourke in the Arts portfolio, implementing Labor's commitments to the local arts sector including the expansion of the Belconnen Arts Centre.
"Minister Rattenbury will take on the new portfolio of Climate Change and Sustainability, leading the jointly held goal of both Labor and the Greens to see the ACT powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020. Minister Rattenbury will also be the Territory's new Minister for Mental Health, overseeing the establishment of the Office for Mental Health to rollout mental health services.
"Our other new Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith will have a strong focus on community services. Minister Stephen-Smith will develop a carers strategy in close consultation with Carers ACT, disability groups and other affected community members.
"The Minister will also be responsible for creating a new policy unit to monitor and support the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, oversee grants to improve the ability of people with disabilities to participate in mainstream community groups and better support parents of children with disabilities. This includes a resourced Disability Reference Group to include people with disabilities, and also addressing access issues for transport and new developments.
"As the new Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister Stephen-Smith will establish an ongoing Multicultural Advisory Board to assist with the implementation of the ACT Multicultural Framework and convene a multicultural summit," Mr Barr said.