Here comes number six: Gary Gray appointed as small business minister

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has appointed Gary Gray as small business minister after Chris Bowen’s resignation from the cabinet position last week.

Bowen, a key supporter of Kevin Rudd, jumped after the aborted leadership challenge last week and his departure, along with that of other ministers left Gillard with several spots to fill.

Gray will also hold down the cabinet positions of minister for resources and energy and minister for tourism as well as minister for small business.

In a statement announcing the appointment Gillard praised Gray’s previous work in the area.

“He has been a tireless advocate for business in his own community and in Western Australia and will bring that purpose to promoting the interests of the tourism sector and small business,” she said.

Gray is the member for Brand, Western Australia but originally hails from England where he moved with his family when he was at school.

He was first appointed to Parliament in 2007 when he won his seat in the federal election, replacing retiring former Labor leader Kim Beazley.

Gray’s home in Australia was initially in South Australia where he went to school and got a job at BHP steelworks for a few years.

Then Gray worked at the Savings Bank of South Australia before going into politics in 1985 as an assistant to Northern Territory opposition leader Bob Collins.

Gray worked his way up to National Secretary of the Labor Party before resigning in November 1999, citing personal and family reasons, and moving to Perth.

In Perth he took up a role with Wesfarmers as the executive director of the Western Australian Institute of Medical Research and became an adviser for Woodside Petroleum before running for parliament.

Shadow minister for small business, Bruce Billson, said the “revolving door” of small business ministers is bad for the sector because there is no way Gray can familiarise himself with the portfolio and formulate policy before the election.

“The long-term economic harm Labor has caused to small business is indescribable,” Billson said.

“Gary Gray hasn’t shown an interest in small business for more than two years having last mentioned the sector in Parliament in March 2007.”

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