Australia is set for yet another small business minister, after Mark Arbib resigned from Parliament yesterday after just two months in the role. So who is next?
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says he is meeting with Arbib’s office tomorrow, before the ministry reshuffle is announced on Thursday.
Strong says Mark Dreyfus and David Bradbury are two names he has heard.
Dreyfus is now serving as Cabinet Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. He entered Parliament in 2007, after being appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1999. His stated interests are the environment and indigenous Australians.
David Bradbury also entered Parliament in 2007 and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer in September 2010. Before entering Parliament, Bradbury was a senior associate practising in taxation law with law firm Blake Dawson, and a former mayor of Penrith in New South Wales.
Strong says he hopes the small business agenda will continue unabated, but with a new boss.
But Bruce Billson, shadow small business minister, says “only the Coalition has a clear plan to restore hope, reward and opportunity for Australia’s small businesses and family enterprises.”
Billson reiterated his call for the small business minister to be included in Cabinet.
Arbib capped a dramatic day in Parliament yesterday by announcing he would stand down as a senator on March 9, just hours after Prime Minister Julia Gillard decisively won a leadership ballot against the man she deposed, Kevin Rudd.
Arbib cited a desire to spend more time with his young children and a wish for Labor to heal itself after a tumultuous couple of years, alluding to his controversial role in removing Rudd from the prime ministership.
“I’ve had to make tough and unpopular decisions, but I have always been loyal to the Labor Party, the party I love,” the New South Wales right-winger said.
He said he hoped Labor members would see his resignation as a “gesture to help unite and to heal.”
Arbib’s resignation means four ministries are up for grabs: Arbib’s roles as small business minister, assistant treasurer and sports minister, as well as Rudd’s former job of foreign minister.
With Gillard flagging she will announce a revamped ministry shortly, business groups have warned her to resist the urge to punish those MPs who backed Rudd in the ballot.
Reports suggest former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally or former Labor national president Warren Mundine are rumoured replacements for Arbib in the Senate.