Federal Labor MP Gary Gray has hung on to his position as small business minister and will stay in cabinet despite saying Kevin Rudd was only good at getting media attention and could never lead again.
Gray says following last night’s leadership spill Kevin Rudd asked him to stay in cabinet and he will, avoiding the turmoil of the appointment of a seventh small business minister since Labor took power in 2007.
Gray backed Julia Gillard in the leadership ballot yesterday, but told ABC radio this morning he will stay on.
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It was a change of tack for Gray from last week when he said Rudd was good at getting himself in the media but could not govern because he did not have the “courage and strength” that was required.
He called on Rudd at the time to “put up or shut up”.
But, today, Gray told the ABC he had made a “practical and pragmatic” decision.
“There is a new Labor leader and we have to get on with job of a government that is working in the interest of all Australians as soon as possible,” he said.
SmartCompany contacted Gray for comment but he failed to respond before publication.
The shadow minister for small business, Bruce Billson, told SmartCompany Australia deserved better than the “division, dysfunction and chaos” of the Labor Party.
“Only an election will deliver a genuinely united government and a better future for all Australians,” he says.
Council of Small Businesses of Australia executive director Peter Strong told SmartCompany he would have been “scathing” of another change in the small business minister portfolio.
“It’s the right decision, to change the small business minister again would have just said we do not value small business,” he says.
“There is not much time between now and the election, we need things done; we want some action on contract policy and competition law.”
Strong says politicians need to remember small businesses vote and employ five million other people who also vote.
“The biggest problem for small business is a lack of certainty about the future,” he says.