Former Attorney-General Martin Pakula has been appointed as the new Victorian innovation minister as part of a major state government cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Pakula, who served as the chief law officer for the Daniel Andrews government’s entire last term, has taken over the role from Philip Dalidakis, who was removed from the ministry earlier this week in a surprise to the local sector following Labor’s thumping election win.
Mr Pakula has been appointed the new minister for jobs, innovation and trade, and will also be the minister for tourism, sport and major events, and racing.
Adem Somyurek has also returned to cabinet and will serve as minister for small business, a role he had in the previous government before he stepped aside due to bullying allegations made against him by a female staffer.
While Mr Andrews earlier this week said Mr Dalidakis had “graciously” stood aside to make way for more women in cabinet – the new ministry has a 50-50 gender split for the first time – he has been replaced in his roles by two men.
Following the news, Mr Pakula tweeted that he had “huge shoes to fill” in the role.
Mr Dalidakis said that the new minister needs to be given a chance.
“Every minister brings something different and now it’s [Mr Pakula’s] turn. He’ll be great, just need to give him a chance,” Mr Dalidakis tweeted on Thursday.
Members of the Victorian tech and startup sectors reacted with disappointment at the news of Mr Dalidakis’ dumping from Cabinet, along with a handful of federal politicians.
Nationals MP Darren Chester said the move to scrap Mr Dalidakis from Cabinet was “very odd and disappointing”, while Liberals MP Craig Laundy said that he “can’t believe” it.
Mr Pakula has been a member of state parliament since 2006, initially in the upper house before moving to the Legislative Assembly in 2013. He was re-elected as the member for Keysborough in this month’s election with 65 percent of the two candidate preferred vote.
Along with attorney-general and shadow attorney-general, Mr Pakula has also served as minister for industrial relations, industry and trade, and public transport. He was also previously the national vice president of the National Union of Workers.
Gavin Jennings will return to his role of special minister of state, overseeing the Victorian ICT strategy, Tim Pallas has retained his role as Treasurer and will also serve as the minister for economic development and industrial relations as part of the reshuffle.
The role of finance minister has been scrapped from cabinet, replaced with assistant treasurer, with Robin Scott to take on the role.
The massive Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources has also been split in two, with the Department of Transport and Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions formed.
A new Economic Development Agency will also be created under the Department of Treasury and Finance to “focus on investment attraction and commercial negotiations across government”.