JACINTA Allan’s appointment as state opposition shadow minister for regional cities was welcomed by Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh, but downplayed by Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine.
The Bendigo-based Labor MP was given the portfolio which was added in Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews’ revised leadership team last week.
Cr Neoh told The Standard earlier last week it was pleasing to see Labor had recognised the importance of regional Victoria, but Dr Napthine said Mr Andrews was just playing catch-up.
“The Coalition has had a regional cities minister in opposition and government for some years,” Dr Napthine said.
“It’s some recognition from the Labor Party that the Coalition got it right.
“In the highest level of government country Victoria is well represented.
“It also seems strange they’ve taken agriculture away from John Lenders and loaded that onto Jacinta Allan whose knowledge of agriculture is zero, zilch and zip.
“For country Victoria, having someone who knows the importance of our agriculture industries to not only our economy, but growth of jobs is vital.”
Dr Napthine said the reshuffle was evidence Mr Andrews did not have the freedom to choose his team, but it was chosen by factional heavies and union leaders.
“It was the back room boys in Lygon Street who have chosen the shadow ministry rather than having them chosen on merit, talent and ability.
“If you put person-for-person across the two teams I think the Coalition is streets ahead in people who understand country Victoria.
“Bring on the election. Unfortunately it can’t come any faster than November next year.”