Four senior NSW government ministers – including Attorney-General Greg Smith and Hospitality and Racing Minister George Souris – will be dumped from cabinet under a shake-up ordered by new Premier Mike Baird.
On Monday night it emerged Mr Smith, Mr Souris as well as Environment Minister Robyn Parker and Local Government Minister Don Page are set to be axed from the ministry.
Axed: NSW Minister for Hospitality and Racing George Souris.
Pittwater MP Rob Stokes, Castle Hill MP Dominic Perrottet and Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell, all Liberals, are to be being promoted along with Nationals MPs Troy Grant, who is the member for Dubbo, and Bathurst MP Paul Toole. Hornsby MP Matt Kean and Baulkham Hills MP David Elliott are expected to be named as parliamentary secretaries.
The sacking of Mr Smith as Attorney-General will be seen as a victory for law-and-order hardliners who have been critical of his support for bail law reform and vocal opposition to mandatory sentencing.
Last year Mr Smith, a former deputy director of public prosecutions, declared mandatory sentencing was an ”ineffective crime fighting tool”. Mandatory minimum sentences were a centrepiece of the government’s response to alcohol related violence in February but have been blocked by the upper house.
Ms Parker – a surprise choice as environment minister by former Premier Barry O’Farrell after the 2011 election – has had a chequered time as Environment Minister, most recently drawing criticism over the controversial draft masterplan for the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Domain.
The promotion of Mr Stokes, a parliamentary secretary for renewable energy, indicates he may be in line to take on the environment portfolio.
Mr Perrottet, a leading rightwinger, is chair of the Parliament’s legal affairs committee but not expected to be made attorney-general. There was speculation Planning Minister Brad Hazzard may be given the role.
Community services minister Pru Goward will take on planning. Sports minister Gabrielle Upton is tipped to take over community services.
The promotion of Mr Rowell, who is government Whip, will be seen as another nod to the party’s right faction which had been pushing for better cabinet representation than existed under Mr O’Farrell.
The dumping of Mr Souris from cabinet is perhaps the most surprising given his role in overhauling the liquor licensing regime following the fatal assaults in Kings Cross on Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.
Mr Baird is expected to announce the full details of his new cabinet on Tuesday before it is sworn in on Wednesday at 10am.
Assistant ministers will also be appointed to the key portfolios of health, education and planning to provide extra support. These are likely to be ministers holding related junior portfolios. The example given was the Minister for Mental Health – currently Kevin Humphries – who would be made assistant health minister.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli will retain their portfolios.
Mr Baird confirmed on Monday that he would not hold on to the Treasury portfolio to deliver the budget on June 17 as he needed to focus immediately on his new role. As his predecessor Barry O’Farrell did, Mr Baird will also become minister for western Sydney.
This article is from the Sydney Morning Herald.