Opposition leader Luke Foley has lashed out at premier Mike Baird for abolishing the role of ministers for the regions, including a minister for the north coast.
Mr Foley said the move was ‘payback’ for regions such as the north coast that turned on longstanding National Party members at Saturday’s election over their failure to act on issues such as CSG.
The role has been downgraded to a parliamentary secretary responsibility and will be held by Nationals MP for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis.
Past incumbents of the role include outgoing Ballina MP Don Page, who held the position from 2011 until he announced last year that he was retiring from politics.
The last north coast minister was Crookwell-based upper house MP Duncan Gay.
‘Mike Baird’s decision to scrap Ministers for the Hunter, Illawarra, Central Coast, North Coast and Western NSW from his Cabinet today is payback only days after the election,’ Mr Foley said
‘The decision means that the key regions outside of Sydney will no longer have a voice around the cabinet table.’
Mr Foley said the premier had ‘a responsibility to be inclusive and govern for the whole state – including those people who didn’t vote for him’.
He described the decision as ‘vindictive and spiteful’.
‘Many of these regions recorded large swings against the government on the weekend – leading to the conclusion that [they] have been punished for expressing their dissatisfaction with the Liberals and Nationals.
‘The fact that sestern Sydney has been retained in the ministry makes the omission of other regions all the more glaring.
‘The fact that the Nationals have raised barely a murmur demonstrates their failure to provide a strong voice for regional NSW and stand up to the Liberals.
‘The people of the Hunter, Illawarra, Central Coast, North Coast and Western NSW should feel very insulted by today’s announcement.
‘It is vital that these regions have a voice around the cabinet table – otherwise they will continue to be neglected by this government,’ Mr Foley said.