Historic firsts as Albanese’s new cabinet is sworn in

Labor's new ministry after Wednesday's ceremony at Government House.

Labor's new ministry after Wednesday's ceremony at Government House. Photo: Getty

Anthony Albanese’s new cabinet has been sworn in at Government House in Canberra.

Governor-General David Hurley swore in Labor’s new ministry, which includes a record number of women and MPs from non-Anglo backgrounds.

Mr Albanese’s 30-member cabinet was announced on Tuesday night. It includes 13 women.

Mr Albanese said he was proud to lead “an inclusive government that is as diverse as Australia itself”.

“This is the largest number of women who have ever served in an Australian cabinet,” he said on Tuesday.

“We have an overflow of talent on our side of the parliament … it’s the most experienced incoming Labor government in our history since federation.”

Several of the new Labor ministers drove themselves to Government House on a freezing Canberra day for Wednesday’s formal swearing-in. At least one turned up in a taxi, and many brought young children.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher were already sworn in last week and will retain those roles.

In addition, Mr Marles – who was first up on Wednesday – picks up Defence from Brendan O’Connor.

With the new cabinet sworn in in order of seniority, Mr Marles was followed by Senator Wong and Dr Chalmers.

Senator Gallagher was next, adding Minister for Women and Minister for the Public Service to her existing role.

Tanya Plibersek was sworn in as Environment Minister, in a shift from her long-held education portfolio. Labor’s previous environment spokesman, Terri Butler, lost her Queensland seat at the election.

Mr Albanese has denied the shift is a demotion for Ms Plibersek. Jason Clare, who appears several places below Ms Plibersek on Mr Albanese’s cabinet list, is the new Education Minister.

albanese swearing in

New Education Minister Jason Clare with Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek. Photo: Getty

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles defended the move, saying the environment ministry could not be characterised as a demotion, with the area front and centre of Labor’s priorities.

“It’s one of the most important ministries we have got which has been an enduring passion for Tanya Plibersek,” he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.

“It’s always been a very senior portfolio in government, particularly Labor governments.”

There were several historic moments at Wednesday’s ceremony. Ed Husic, the new Industry Minister, is the first Muslim Cabinet minister, while Anne Aly, the new Early Childhood Education and Youth Minister in the outer cabinet, is the first Muslim woman to serve as a minister.

Linda Burney became the first Indigenous women to hold the indigenous Australians portfolio, while former Labor leader Bill Shorten becomes NDIS Minister and Minister for Government Services.

The new Attorney-General is Mark Dreyfus, who previously served in the position in 2013.

Victorian MP Clare O’Neil is Home Affairs Minister, replacing Kristina Keneally, who was unsuccessful at the election in an attempt to switch to the lower house.

In another new role, NSW MP Matt Thistlethwaite becomes Minister for the Republic, as well as taking on the role of Assistant Minister for Defence and for Veterans’ Affairs.

Australian Republic Movement chair Peter FitzSimons described the appointment of Mr Thistlethwaite as “the best news for the Australian Republic Movement in nigh on a quarter-century”.

It remains to be seen what progress Labor will make on the issue after it confirmed a constitutionally-enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament was its referendum priority.

But Mr FitzSimons said the republic movement now had “the wind in our sails”.

There was also a lighter moment on Wednesday, when an unsilenced phone rang out loud, playing INXS’s Need You Tonight, just as new Regional Development and Local Government Kristy McBain was shaking Governor-General’s David Hurley’s hand.

“No soundtracks please,” Mr Albanese quipped.

Labor secured the last of its 77 seats on Tuesday, with a narrow win in the NSW south coast seat of Gilmore. That gives it a clear but slim majority in the 151-seat House of Representatives.

Mr Albanese is yet to name a speaker. That decision is likely to wait until closer to parliament’s return on July 26.

It is not yet clear if that will be a Labor MP, or someone from the crossbench. Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie has expressed an interest in the role.

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