Tanya Plibersek, Bill Shorten and Mark Butler will join Cabinet after Prime Minister Julia Gillard revealed her reshuffled front bench this afternoon.
Greg Combet is another winner, adding Industry and Innovation to his existing responsibilities for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
VIDEO: Tim Lester analyses the major cabinet re-shuffle for the Gillard government.
Mr Shorten will be Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and keeps his old portfolios of Financial Services and Superannuation, Ms Plibersek will be Health Minister and Mr Butler will be for Mental Health and Aging Minister and Social Inclusion Minister.
Senator Kim Carr was the biggest loser, being dropped from Cabinet and moved to the outer ministry. He is now Minister for Manufacturing and Minister for Defence Materiel.
Ms Gillard has increased her Cabinet by two places, to 22. She said the new team reflected her priorities for 2012.
“With this new Cabinet in place we will see an important mix of new energy, as well as wise heads and experienced heads,” she said.
“This will give us the focus and fire power that we need in 2012.”
Chris Evans will take over as minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research.
“This new portfolio will also be responsible for international education given the importance of higher education and vocational education and training to this sector,” she said.
Mark Arbib will be Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business, in addition to his old role of Sport Minister.
Brendan O’Connor will become Human Services Minister, and will work with Education Minister Peter Garrett on school reform as Minister Assisting for School Education.
Robert McClelland will take on the new role of Minister for Emergency Management and will also be Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Nicola Roxon will take on his old role of Attorney-General.
Ms Gillard said law was Ms Roxon’s first love.
“She will be the first woman in the nation’s history to serve in that role and I know that she will do it with distinction,” she said.
Jenny Macklin will add Disability Reform to her existing role as Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
And Julie Collins will join the ministry, as Minister for Community Services, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for the Status of Women.
Jason Clare will be Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice.
Ms Gillard also revealed the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government would move from her portfolio to become a standalone department.
“Responsibility for Arts and Sport will transfer to the new standalone portfolio, which will be named Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport,” she said.
Responsibility for national security research and innovation will move from Ms Gillard’s portfolio to Defence, while responsibility for cyber security policy will move from the Attorney-General’s portfolio to Ms Gillard’s.
Mike Kelly, the only current MP with military experience in a war zone, returns to having a defence portfolio. The Monaro MP will be Parliamentary Secretary in the Defence portfolio and will assist the Minister for Defence on the Afghanistan transition.
Sherry stands down
The reshuffle comes after Nick Sherry stood down from his job this morning as small business minister.
Senator Sherry said he wanted to spend more time with his three young children, and the decision to stand down was his own.
“I’ve just turned 56 and you do think about these issues a little more when you get a touch older,” he said.
Ms Gillard will today reveal a new-look ministry aimed at rewarding her backers and shoring up her leadership of the Labor Party.
While Kevin Rudd is tipped to remain in cabinet as Foreign Minister, the changes are designed to cut short any emerging challenge from the former prime minister in the near future.
Govt’s poor polling
It also comes as the latest Fairfax Nielsen poll showed Labor’s primary support fell 1 percentage point, to 29 per cent.
The Coalition’s primary vote was up 4 points to 49 per cent, giving it a commanding 57-43 lead on a two-party preferred basis. This is a 2-point swing since last month’s poll.
The Greens’ primary vote fell 3 points to 11 per cent.
Support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard was also down.
Her approval rating fell 4 points to 35 per cent, while her disapproval was up 1 point to 58 per cent. Mr Abbott’s approval rating was steady at 41 per cent while his disapproval rating fell 1 point to 53 per cent.
He also reopened his lead over Ms Gillard as preferred prime minister, leading 46 per cent (up 1 point) to 42 per cent (down 3 points).