Gladys Berejiklian announced her new cabinet line up today. The ministers that will be responsible for transport are;
The Honourable Andrew Constance MP – Minister for Urban Transport and Roads (Liberal – Bega)
The Honourable Paul Toole MP – Minister for Regional Transport and Roads (Nationals – Bathurst)
Andrew Constance retain most of his existing portfolio from the last term of government. He picks up responsibility for major road projects within the urban areas of the state, whilst losing responsibility for transport in regional areas. Very divisive within the last term of government, some will be happy with his reappointment whilst others will be extremely disappointed,
Paul Toole moves from Lands, Forestry and Racing, whilst he was previously the much loathed Minister for Local Government responsible for the council mergers that ended the career of Mike Baird. He picks up responsibility for all regional transport and roads. It is yet to be seen how he performs in this portfolio.
The definition of “urban” and “regional” is yet to clarified. Despite this, we expect seats where the Liberal Party runs candidates to be considered “urban” and seats where the National part runs to be considered “regional”. Of course this brings up the issue of what to do with obviously regional Liberal held seats like Albury, Bega (the seat held by Constance) and South Coast, but that is an issue for Transport for NSW to work out.
This division of responsibility is different to the way that the Coalition have chosen to divide transport in the past. Over the past two terms in government, the Liberals have taken all the responsibility for Public Transport whilst the Nationals have taken all the responsibility for Roads. (the obvious exception to this was Westconnex, which previously got its own minister, but this has been rolled into the urban portfolio.) In this term of government they have instead decided to divide responsibility by an unspecified urban vs regional boundary. What difference in policy or outcome this leads to is yet unknown, but could lead to an interesting power struggle where the two portfolios overlap. This division is likely indicative of the wider focus on regional NSW that the government would like to take in the term.
Here at Transport NSW Blog we hope to work constructively with both Ministers in this term of government and wish them the best of luck in their new portfolios. We are yet to clarify who will occupy the position of Shadow Minister for Transport and Roads in this term.