Labor reshuffle boosts women in shadow cabinet

Former ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher will join the shadow cabinet with responsibility for mental health, housing, homelessness and women. Lukas Coch/AAP

Bill Shorten has elevated two more women to his shadow cabinet, giving Labor a total of seven compared with the Turnbull cabinet’s five, in a minor reshuffle of his frontbench.

High-profile NSW senator Sam Dastyari is to become a shadow parliamentary secretary in the key education area in the changes announced on Tuesday.

Shorten has moved new senator Katy Gallagher, who was formerly ACT chief minister, straight to shadow cabinet, covering the areas of mental health, housing and homelessness and becoming shadow minister assisting the leader on state and territory relations. She will also take responsibility for women’s policy within the shadow cabinet. Gallagher was health minister during her ACT career.

Michelle Rowland is promoted into shadow cabinet as shadow minister for small business, as well as continuing as shadow minister for citizenship and multiculturalism. She will be assisted by the existing shadow parliamentary secretary for small business, Julie Owens, who will become shadow parliamentary secretary for early childhood education.

Jim Chalmers, one-time chief-of-staff to then-treasurer Wayne Swan, becomes shadow minister for superannuation and financial services. He will also have assistant shadow minister responsibilities for trade and investment and productivity, as well as becoming shadow minister for sport.

Dastyari, a former NSW Labor state secretary who has been very high profile in a number of Senate inquiries (including grilling leading company figures on tax and other issues), has been appointed shadow parliamentary secretary for school education and youth. He will also be parliamentary secretary to the leader of the opposition and deputy manager of opposition business in the Senate.

Shorten said Dastyari’s promotion was a reflection of the significance of education to Labor “and of his consistent hard work holding this Liberal government to account”.

The reshuffle was triggered by two shadow ministers, Bernie Ripoll and Jan McLucas, stepping down from the frontbench because they are not contesting the election. The factions chose the two new shadow ministers – Chalmers from the right and Gallagher from the left. The leader allocates portfolios. In the subsequent changes no-one has been dropped.

Queenslander Terri Butler becomes shadow parliamentary secretary for child safety and prevention of family violence, reflecting the increasing emphasis on this issue. She has also been appointed shadow parliamentary secretary to the leader of the opposition.

Ed Husic adds to his existing responsibilities as shadow parliamentary secretary in the treasury area and becomes shadow parliamentary secretary for digital innovation and start-ups.

Shorten said the team would take Labor to the election.