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Veterans consider future as Right takes spoils in Labor carve-up


Incoming Labor leader Peter Malinauskas has called on colleagues to put up their hands for frontbench positions in his new-look Opposition – with some former ministers still considering their futures.

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Former Environment Minister Ian Hunter has not responded to widespread suggestions he will not return to the Labor frontbench, while former Attorney-General and Deputy Premier John Rau is still weighing up his options.

InDaily understands Malinauskas – who will be formalised as ALP leader at a caucus vote in a fortnight – addressed a meeting of Right-faction MPs this week, putting out a call for frontbench nominations to be provided to state secretary Reggie Martin by the end of the week.

The Opposition is expected to have 14 frontbench positions, consistent with the number of ministers sworn into the Marshall Government last week. InDaily understands the Right will retain the lion’s share, with at least eight of the new roles.

The Weatherill cabinet had an even split between Right and Left-faction MPs, but its understood the Right will wrest back control of the cabinet under Malinauskas – in part a trade-off for the fact Left convenor Kyam Maher is expected to retain the key post of ALP Upper House leader.

He’s also likely to hold a senior economic portfolio as the most likely option to hold Treasurer Rob Lucas to account in the Legislative Council.

There will be at least three new faces on Labor’s frontbench, with outgoing Premier Jay Weatherill already ruling out a return and Labor MPs to be brought in to replace independents Martin Hamilton-Smith and Geoff Brock.

The Right will also have more votes in caucus, likely boasting 16 MPs to the Left’s 11.

Several insiders have suggested Left-wing one-time state secretary Hunter may not be returning to the frontbench but the former Environment Minister did not respond to inquiries today.

Rau, however, confirmed he was still considering whether to put his name forward for a shadow ministry.

“I haven’t finally sorted that in my own mind – I’m still thinking about it,” he told InDaily.

“I intend to do something that’s useful… I’m just thinking about how I’d best do that.”

Rau, who last week suggested he would take soundings about his future, including whether to stand as leader or retire altogether, said he was comfortable with Malinauskas’ elevation to the Labor throne.

“I’m very content with that outcome – that’s fine,” he said.

And he said he had “no plans” to retire mid-term and was “just settling into doing MP-type activities”.

Asked if that meant he would serve out a full four years, he said: “That’s my expectation, yeah.”

The most likely Left-winger in line for promotion is former parliamentary secretary Nat Cook, who is widely expected to put her name forward for a shadow ministry.

Fledgling MP Blair Boyer, formerly retired Education Minister Jennifer Rankine’s chief of staff, is also considered a prospect for elevation, along with new MLC Justin Hanson.

The Right faction has welcomed into the fold Badcoe MP Jayne Stinson and former Weatherill advisor Emily Bourke, elevated into the Upper House late to replace Leesa Vlahos, although neither is expected to put their hand up for immediate promotion.

Dana Wortley and Lee Odenwalder have also been mentioned in dispatches as likely to nominate for elevation, with former minister Tony Piccolo – who stood aside to facilitate Malinauskas’s own cabinet accession – suggested as an outside chance to return.

Steven Marshall meanwhile has today appointed new Elder MP Carolyn Habib and long-time Legislative Councillor Jing Lee as assistant ministers.

Habib will be responsible for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention, while Lee will be Marshall’s own right-hander.

“I’ve devoted much of my working life to being a voice for some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens, and in my new role I will continue that work,” Habib said in a statement.

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