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Fresh faces set for Cabinet

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UPDATED: Labor’s Cabinet will have four fresh faces when it’s sworn in late this afternoon.

The Labor Caucus this morning rubber-stamped the candidates for the new ministry, with portfolios to be revealed at the swearing in ceremony at Government House.

Labor’s factions met yesterday to decide on their candidates for the Cabinet vacancies. The Right has selected two very new MPs – member for Ramsay Zoe Bettison, who came into Parliament at a by-election caused by former Premier Mike Rann’s resignation, and Stephen Mullighan, freshly elected in the western suburbs seat of Lee on March 15.

The Left will elevate Susan Close, member for Port Adelaide, who came into Parliament on the retirement of former Treasurer Kevin Foley.

These three will join independent Geoff Brock as new faces  in the ministry.

Labor insiders believe there are only two options in the likely event that Premier Jay Weatherill gives up the Treasury – a return to former Treasurer Jack Snelling, or a bolder move to Tom Koutsantonis.

The question is whether either man would want the job, given the tough budget tasks ahead and the potential damage to the longer-term leadership ambitions of both.

Two female ministers lost their seats at the March 15 election – the Right’s Chloe Fox and the Left’s Grace Portolesi.

Two other Right positions in the ministry are also vacant following Michael O’Brien’s retirement and Tom Kenyon’s decision to step down from his Cabinet post. However, Independent Geoff Brock has been promised a Cabinet position by Weatherill. He’ll take the regional development and local government relations portfolios.

Earlier yesterday, there was a late push for the Right’s Dana Wortley to get a Cabinet post, but she didn’t succeed in the factional ballot.

Wortley, who is married to former Labor minister and current upper house member Russell Wortley, is new to state politics in the seat of Torrens, but has six years as a Senator under her belt (2004-2010).

The Right’s Leesa Vlahos is likely to be feeling aggrieved after being overlooked again for a frontbench spot.

Veteran Labor MP Michael Atkinson is expected to retain the Speaker’s position.

John Rau is expected to keep the Deputy Leadership.

Kenyon, the current Minister for Trade and Manufacturing, announced yesterday he was standing down from the ministry and putting his family first.

“I’d been thinking about the family situation for quite some time,” he told InDaily.

“I was waiting to see how the election played out before making any announcement.

“Mostly, I had been missing key moments in my kid’s lives – their first sports match or their end-of-year concert. They are important times for children that age.”

Kenyon’s son Matthew is 14 and his daughter Rachel turned 13 on election day.

“They are very important years in a boy or girl’s life and I want to be there.

“I need to be around a lot.”

Kenyon entered parliament in 2006 in the marginal north eastern suburbs seat, taking over from the Liberal’s Dorothy Kotz with a comfortable 6.8 per cent two-party preferred margin.

He held the seat in 2010 with a 2.6 per cent margin and retained it this time by just 631 votes (1.4 per cent).

– additional reporting by Kevin Naughton

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