The Gillard Government has appointed Mark Arbib as Australia’s Small Business Minister following the resignation of Nick Sherry, who held the title for little more than a year.
Arbib, who will retain his title as Minister for Sport, was formerly the Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness.
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He has now been promoted to the position of Assistant Treasurer and Small Business Minister, meaning that, along with his role managing business in the senate, he will have four different roles.
Arbib will sit outside cabinet, continuing the stance of the Gillard government to not include small business at the top table of decision making.
According to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Senator Arbib will help sharpen the focus of people wanting to start their own small business.
“I will be looking to Mark Arbib… to be in touch with the needs of our small business community and for being in touch with Australians who see their future being creating their own small business,” Gillard said today.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed Arbib’s appointment, saying he is “well experienced” in dealing with ACCI and the business sector during the Rudd government.
Meanwhile, shadow small business Minister Bruce Billson cast doubt over Arbib’s ability to manage the portfolio, and also questioned his credibility.
“Hopefully, Senator Arbib can take the knife he used on Kevin Rudd to slash red tape for small business,” Billson said in a statement.
“I’m not sure how much the small business sector can trust Mark Arbib after he was one of the faceless men who dethroned Rudd.”
“I doubt there will be more of a focus on small business with Senator Arbib getting small business bolted on with his existing duties.”
The news comes amid a dramatic Cabinet reshuffle by Gillard, designed to elevate Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten into the industrial relations portfolio.
Cabinet ministers were called to the Lodge over the weekend to learn their fate, with Sherry identified as one of several ministers set to lose their title.
But Sherry beat Gillard to the punch, stepping down from his role and retiring from politics after 21 years, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.
“This was my decision – I did not consult with anyone in the Labor Party,” Sherry said.
“I’ve just turned 56 and you do think about these issues a little more when you get a touch older. I am fit and energetic, I enjoy being a minister but… I came to the conclusion it was time.”