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Perrottet strips and renovates NSW Cabinet

Premier Perrottet (left) during a 15 December press conference

Melinda Pavey, the Minister for Water, Property and Housing will not return to Premier Domenic Perrottet’s front bench after being relieved of her portfolio in a comprehensive cabinet reshuffle jettisoning legacies of the Berejiklian era.

Pavey, who was again under pressure from a Legislative Council inquiry into floodplain harvesting last week, said she was disappointed upon being informed that her ministerial services were no longer required:

“While I'm disappointed, I respect the decision made.
“My enormous thanks to all the industry groups who have supported me through the various ministerial portfolios of Roads, Transport, Water and Housing.”

Pavey made note of some of the obstacles she was fronted with during her time in the NSW cabinet while acknowledging the community’s support for her.

“I took the Water Ministry during the worst drought on record, and to this end I thank the Menindee community for welcoming me under much duress. I hope the incredible work in the water space, especially regarding coastal harvestable rights and in redefining the narrative on behalf of farmers, continues.”
“It’s also important the final business cases of the Wyangala and Dungowan dams, as well the Regional Water Strategies are carried through to fruition.”

Tamworth Nationals MP Kevin Anderson becomes minister for water, as well as Lands, Hospitality and Racing.

Helen Dalton from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party tweeted about Anderson’s appointment, questioning the revamped portfolio.

“So Kevin Anderson MP is the new NSW Minister for Lands, Water, Hospitality and Racing. Interesting mix of portfolios. Does it suggest the NSW Government is re-bundling Land and Water together? Or is water set to become more of a Casino than it already is?”

Nationals leader Paul Toole paid tribute to Mrs Pavey:

"Across her portfolios of Roads, Maritime and Freight and more recently as Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Mrs Pavey has worked to build stronger communities with better roads, better housing and improved water security while planning for the future through our investment in dams."

One of her final potential legacies as minister was, on Friday, to table yet another attempt to regulate floodplain harvesting, drawing praise from the NSW Irrigators Council. The regulation could, like its predecessors, be disallowed by parliament's Legislative Council early in 2022.

Pavey, a former radio journalist, also highlighted her belief that it is crucial more women are given prominent ministerial roles in NSW.

Pavey, the longest-serving National Party MP in Australia, was not the only high-profile female minister to part ways with the NSW cabinet.

Shelley Hancock, the Minister for Local Government, also announced in a statement to media that she will end her tenure as a cabinet minister in NSW, citing family issues as a key factor in her decision.

“The commitment it takes to serve as a Minister is significant.”
“Many know of my challenging family circumstances and it is due to these that I informed the Premier that I could not fully commit to continuing to serve as a Minister, and I have asked him not to reappoint me to Cabinet.”

Hancock, who first entered politics in 2003, found the loss of Gladys Berejiklian had been a personal last straw:

“Also, a significant challenge for me has been the departure of Gladys Berejiklian. Gladys’ resignation is a loss for New South Wales and a personal loss for me, and something that I have found difficult to move past.”

Hancock was famously the only Liberal party candidate to win a seat from the sitting government in her first contested election in 2003 and presided over delayed December local government elections during which she urged women to stand for local shires. The outgoing local government minister said that elevating more women to the NSW cabinet was fundamental for the state’s political future:

“Now is the opportunity for the Premier to deliver a new team to take to the March 2023 State Election and it is important that women are central to the new Cabinet.
"It is often difficult being the only woman in the room, or one of a handful, therefore it is essential that women make up a larger part of the Cabinet to provide our views and perspectives.”
“We do after all make up more than 50 per cent of the population!”

Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall has departed from the ministry, to be replaced by Dugald Saunders, the Nationals MP for the Dubbo electorate.

Another Nationals MP moving into the ministry is the Nationals' member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke, who takes the emergency services portfolio.

Don Harwin, the Special Minister of State, Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts, issued a weekend statement declaring that he was also stepping down from his ministry.

“Yesterday I informed the Premier that I did not want to be considered for a place in his new Ministry.”
“In the last few weeks I have been giving consideration to whether I could commit to another eight year term in the Legislative Council beyond March 2023.”
"I have now decided I will not re-contest my seat and therefore, this is the right time to end my ministerial service.”


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