A newly re-elected Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a cabinet which consists of an equal number of men and women.
In a historic move, half of ministry positions are going to women with Victoria acquiring its second female attorney-general as Jill Hennessy is being named chief law officer, also the first woman to hold this position in a Victorian Labor government.
In the new cabinet, Ms Hennessy’s position as health minister is being assumed by former minister for families and children Jenny Mikakos, who will face the task to implement the Labor government’s ambitious hospital building program.
Minister Mikakos’ elevation to cabinet marks the most significant and senior appointment of a member of parliament from the Greek community in Victorian history.
The health portfolio is a multi-billion-dollar portfolio responsible for the operation and delivery of hospitals, health services and ambulances right around Victoria.
It is also responsible for delivering major reforms such as voluntary assisted dying. Minister Mikakos, a commercial and tax lawyer before entering politics, will also have to take on the ambulance services portfolio and oversee the roll-out of one of Labor’s big election promises in the free school dental program.
“It is an enormous honour to be installed as the Victorian Minister for Health. There’s nothing more important than the good health of Victorian families, world-class hospitals that patients can count on and an ambulance service that ensures Victorians get the very best care when they need it the most,” Minister Mikakos said.
“I’ll be wasting no time getting to work and giving our hard-working doctors, nurses and paramedics the support they need to make sure Victoria’s health system remains one of the very best in the world.”
Aside from health, families and education, the new-look Cabinet is clearly focused on infrastructure delivery with Jacinta Allan the lead minister in an all-female transport team.
The new additions to the Andrews Labor government include Northern Victorian MP Jaclyn Symes who has yet to be confirmed as winning the fifth spot in her Upper House region. She joins Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams and elected Williamstown MP Melissa Horne as female MPs joining Cabinet for the first time. Their presence raises the number of women in the cabinet to 11, that is equal to the male ministers.
“Today my colleagues have delivered something that has never been achieved in the history of our state – 50 per cent of cabinet are women,” the Premier said in his announcement.
“There is an equality of gender in our state’s most important decision-making body,” he stressed.
While several new faces are joining the ministry, another Greek MP, Philip Dalidakis, who had been serving as Minister for Trade and Investment, Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business, departs.
The former Minister is expected to remain in Parliament as a Labor member for the southern metropolitan region and has been appointed chairman of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee.
“I am deeply grateful to Philip Dalidakis for the work he has done,” the Premier said.
“Philip has a very bright future and I think he will have opportunities to contribute in the future,” he added.
Dalidakis was appointed minister as a replacement for Adem Somyurek, a factional power-broker who was booted from cabinet in 2015 due to bullying allegations by his then chief of staff, Dimity Paul. Mr Somyurek is now returning to the frontbench, although it is not clear in which ministry he will serve, as the government has delayed announcing ministers’ portfolios until later in the week.