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Carr on cars: Senator Kim Carr will return to Labor’s front bench as the shadow minister for industry as part of Bill Shorten’s changes to the shadow cabinet.

Carr on cars: Senator Kim Carr will return to Labor’s front bench as the shadow minister for industry as part of Bill Shorten’s changes to the shadow cabinet.

BILL Shorten has been forced to expand Labor’s front bench of shadow ministers after the party’s left faction tried to have former industry minister Kim Carr dumped because he supported Mr Shorten in the party’s leadership contest three years ago.

Senator Carr, a member of Victoria’s socialist left faction, has retained responsibility for industry and innovation, the latter making him a key party spokesman given the Turnbull government’s emphasis on innovation as a job creator.

He was dumped by the left faction, led by Sydney-based Anthony Albanese, which under party rules was entitled to nominate 14 people to the party’s front bench. The right faction was able to nominate 16.

Only 30 front-bench positions are funded under the current rules, but Mr Shorten has named 32 people.

Bill_Shorten_portrait

Bill Shorten

Mr Shorten, a member of the right faction, had to cross faction lines in order to retain senator Carr’s experience on the front bench.

Chris Bowen will continue as shadow treasurer and will be be backed up by Jim Chalmers, who will take over finance. Mr Chalmers was previously chief of staff to former treasurer Wayne Swan and, before his election in 2013, was executive director of the Chifley Research Centre.

Senator Katy Gallagher will take on small business and financial services while assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh will also carry competition and productivity. Consumer affairs will be handled by Senator Sam Dastyari.

Mr Leigh and Senator Dastyari will shoulder the financial burden of the 32-member front bench. Mr Leigh will take a pay cut and the Senator will not receive a pay rise upon his elevation to the front bench.

Mr Shorten has elevated education to a policy plank of primary importance by putting all education in the hands of Tanya Plibersek and Kate Ellis.

Ms Plibersek, previously responsible for foreign affairs, will take up an expanded portfolio covering schools and universities. These were previously covered by Kate Ellis, who will now take over early childhood education as well as the TAFE (Tertiary and Further Education) and vocational training roles previously held by Senator Carr.

“Education is a first order economic and social priority for Labor in the 45th Parliament,” Mr Shorten said when announcing the new policy allocations. “Investing in education is the key to Australia’s prosperity.”

By Ian Porter

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