Andrew Leigh talks to Jan McLucas at Parliament House as she hands over the duties of Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. Photo: Rohan Thomson
There is nothing like being thrown in at the deep end. That is exactly what happened to Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh on Tuesday when he took up his new role as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister.
With Julia Gillard in Perth trying to scrape back whatever electoral goodwill she can get from the west, Dr Leigh had a heavy schedule during his first day in the new job.
Between a string of media interviews and appointments, the local MP was also expected to immerse himself in the rigours and protocols of being a parliamentary secretary. And with Dr Leigh it was a case of ''while the boss is away, there was no time for play''.
''It was a day of excitement and exhaustion in equal measure,'' he said. ''And things do look different when you're given a new responsibility and there are only six months until the next election.''
The newest member of Ms Gillard's executive council spent much of his day being briefed on all he is expected to be across as a parliamentary secretary.
There was a briefing at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, one from his predecessor Jan McLucas, who was herself promoted to Human Services Minister in Monday's reshuffle, and another about what he needs to do when on official business at Government House.
''It turns out there is more to the life of a bill than I had thought,'' Dr Leigh said. ''And the other thing I will be involved with much more is the public service. It really strikes you as a backbencher how disengaged you are with the public service. That was hard for me after previously being very involved with the public service in my former career.
''I expect there will be more meetings with dignitaries and so forth, but I am hoping to continue talking economics - both as a parliamentary secretary and as a local MP.''
The Australia Day Council will be a key responsibility for Dr Leigh.
On his first day as a frontbencher Dr Leigh kept his local MP's hat on, attending a launch at the National Museum and taking part in a committee teleconference for the national capital. ''I think both my family and my staff have a certain measure of trepidation and excitement over my new role.''