Vic Labor govt locks in cabinet, deputy
Victoria's Labor government has unveiled its frontbench for the November state election and crowned a new deputy premier.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan will replace James Merlino as deputy premier, after he was one of four senior Labor ministers to announce their retirement and step down from cabinet on Friday.
Ms Allan was the only candidate who stood for the position and will become the second female deputy premier in Victoria's history.
The Victorian Labor caucus met at parliament house on Saturday to confirm the make-up of its cabinet after the resignations of Mr Merlino, Health Minister Martin Foley, Jobs Minister Martin Pakula and Police Minister Lisa Neville.
Speaker Colin Brooks and fellow Labor MPs Lizzie Blandthorn, Steve Dimopoulos, Sonya Kilkenny and Harriet Shing were unanimously elected to fill the ministerial vacancies.
Mr Brooks will take on Minister for Child Protection and Family Services and Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, while Ms Blandthorn takes the planning portfolio and the role of Leader of the House in the legislative assembly.
Mr Dimopoulos becomes Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events and Minister for Creative Industries. Ms Kilkenny steps into the role of Minister for Corrections, Youth Justice, Victim Support and Fishing and Boating.
Ms Shing takes on the portfolios of water, regional development and equality.
The speaker's role will be filled by Deputy Speaker Maree Edwards, while Natalie Suleyman will take Ms Edwards' role.
The new ministry is expected to be sworn in at Government House on Monday.
Ms Allan, who entered parliament in 1999 and became the youngest minister in the state's history at 29, said it was a privilege to ascend to the state party's second highest post.
Asked if she had designs on becoming premier one day, Ms Allan said her focus was on serving with Mr Andrews "every single day" and ensuring the re-election of his government.
Mr Andrews insists he will serve a full four-year term if Labor wins the election and the pair have not spoken about a handover.
"The state election will be close, they always are. It's a handful of votes in a handful of seats. We will put forward a positive and optimistic plan," said.
Ms Allan's promotion as deputy party leader cuts across Labor convention to share the two top jobs between the left and right factions, as both Mr Andrews and Ms Allan are both members of the former.
Mr Andrews disputes any such convention exists, pointing to flexibility under the Brumby and Bracks governments of the late 1990s and 2000s.
"Rob Hulls and John Brumby were not from different groups ... John Thwaites and Steve Bracks were not from different groups," he said.
"My judgement is that the best person should get the job."
Earlier, Mr Pakula, a member of Victorian Labor's right, rejected the factions had settled on the make-up of the new ministry pre-caucus meeting and backed Ms Allan's elevation.
"She's the longest serving Labor minister in history and she'll make a great deputy premier," he said.
Mr Merlino also threw his support behind Ms Allan becoming his successor and indicated he would continue as Labor's campaign chair at the November election, helping to craft strategy and tactics.
"I've got enough fuel in the tank to get to the election. It's just not beyond that," he said.