New ministers for small business and innovation in NSW cabinet reshuffle

nsw budget

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet. Source: AAP/Dan Himbrechts.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has unveiled a fresh new cabinet, introducing a new Minister for Small Business, as well as new portfolios for ‘cities’ and ‘science, innovation and technology’.

Miranda MP Eleni Petinos takes up the mantle of Minister for Small Business and Fair Trading.

Former minister for the portfolio, Damien Tudehope, becomes Minister for Finance and Employee Relations. He will also become leader of the government in the Legislative Council and vice president of the Executive Council.

The new ‘cities’ ministry will be charged with implementing Perrottet’s so-called ‘six-cities’ plan.

Building on a 2017 state government plan to split Sydney into three ‘30-minute’ cities, the new plan will see the Greater Sydney Commission become the Greater Cities Commission.

That will also cover Newcastle, the Central Coast and Wollongong as significant metropolitan areas.

“These are cities already undergoing rapid change and revitalisation. They have been industrial workhorses of the past,” Perrottet reportedly said.

The new ‘cities’ portfolio will be led by Liberal MP Rob Stokes, who is also Minister for Infrastructure and Active Transport.

Elsewhere, Ku-ring-gai MP Alister Henskens — former minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services — will head up the new Science, Innovation and Technology portfolio.

He will also be Minister for Skills and Training, and leader of the house in the Legislative Committee.

Having a dedicated Science, Innovation and Technology Minister could prove to be a welcome boost for the tech and startup sector in NSW, although Henskens himself doesn’t appear to have a lot of experience in the space.

The announcement of both of these new portfolios, plus the new ‘homes’ portfolio, follow significant appointments for the Greater Sydney Commission’s innovation hubs.

Microsoft’s head of startups Annie Parker is taking on the role of executive director at the Tech Central hub, and Liza Noonan, former leader of the ON Accelerator at CSIRO, has been appointed to lead the Westmead Health and Innovation District.

Cities need to be ready to deliver talent and infrastructure, Greater Sydney Commission chief executive Elizabeth Mildwater said at the time. They need to be “more than just places to work”.

“As magnets for talent and investment, they must be great places to live, and diverse and vibrant centres of creativity and culture, leisure and innovation.”

Who is the new NSW Small Business Minister?

One of seven women in the new 26-person NSW Cabinet, three of whom are new appointments, Eleni Petinos was elected as member for Miranda in 2015.

Since then, she has served as chair of the legislative assembly committee on transport and infrastructure; and member of committees on healthcare complaints, community services and regulation of brothels.

Until recently, she was also parliamentary secretary for transport and roads.

Back in 2018, Petinos found herself at the centre of a sexting scandal, after screenshots were shared of a text exchange allegedly between her and NSW Treasurer Matt Kean. She denied involvement.

She is also one of several fresh faces in the cabinet.

“This is the best team to lead NSW out of the pandemic and then take it to the next level, and we will work hard every day to serve the people of our great state,” Perrottet reportedly said.

“The new ministry harnesses experience, while allowing for renewal and injecting fresh energy into the team.”

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