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Bourke to stand aside for ACT's first Greens Minister

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Labor MLA Chris Bourke will give up his position as a minister in the ACT Government to make room for Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury.

Dr Bourke is currently Minister for Education and Training, Corrections and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Labor’s Legislative Assembly caucus has reconfirmed Chief Minister Katy Gallagher as its leader, Andrew Barr as deputy and ministers Simon Corbell and Joy Burch to the executive.

Under his power-sharing deal with Labor, Mr Rattenbury will become the ACT’s first Greens minister.

Ministerial portfolios are yet to be finalised but Ms Gallagher will keep health and take on higher education and regional affairs. Mr Barr will remain in the Treasury portfolio.

Ms Gallagher paid tribute to Dr Bourke for the work he had done as a minister since being appointed to a cabinet last year.


“He has earned my respect as a key member of our team and stepped up to the Ministry not long after being elected to the Assembly. I thank him for his work, and his contribution in his portfolio areas, in particular education – a key policy area in our re-election campaign,’’ Ms Gallagher said.

Dr Bourke, a dentist, became the first indigenous member of the Legislative Assembly when he filled a vacancy in the northern electorate of Ginninderra following the resignation of former chief minister Jon Stanhope last year.

He vowed to return to cabinet when a sixth position is eventually established.

“When a sixth ministry is created, I will be pushing for the opportunity to deliver progressive, evidence-based policy to make Canberra an even better city," he said.

"I am very proud of the policies that I took to this election in my key portfolios of Education, Corrections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Industrial Relations."

Ms Gallagher hopes to eventually appoint an extra minister but this will require a special law being passed by the Assembly.

Dr Bourke said Canberra had the best schools in Australia and he wanted them to become the best in the world.

“We need to continue focusing on high achievers in maths and science, closing the gap in Indigenous education, supporting our quality public school teachers, embracing vocational education, and expanding the CIT,’’ he said.

“I am proud that during my time as Education Minister the ACT was the first Australian jurisdiction to get behind the Gonski reforms and a better future for our children.’’

Ms Gallagher said she would hold discussions with the new cabinet ministers before finalising the allocation of portfolios.

Labor MLA Mick Gentleman has been elected government whip and Yvette Berry will be Labor caucus secretary.

Ms Gallagher will formally be elected Chief Minister when the eighth Legislative Assembly meets for the first time on Tuesday morning.

Mr Rattenbury will vote with the Opposition to install Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Labor MLA Mary Porter will also nominate for the speaker’s position and is likely to win the consolation prize of the deputy speakership.