THE announcement of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ new Labor cabinet may provide some early indications of the next term of government’s LGBTI political landscape, but the key LGBTI-centric seat of Prahran remains in doubt.

The cabinet was formally sworn in this morning, with some major changes from Andrews’ (pictured above) shadow cabinet.

Most significant for the LGBTI community is Albert Park state Labor MP Martin Foley’s ministry portfolio of Equality, the first ever LGBTI-focused cabinet position in any state, territory or federal government in Australia.

Foley also holds the diverse portfolios of Housing, Disability and Ageing, Mental Health, and Creative Industries — formerly Arts — all of which have relevance to the LGBTI community.

Mental Health in particular is expected to be significant, with former Coalition Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge engaging extensively with the LGBTI community.

Also of particular relevance to LGBTI Victorians, the Health portfolio previously held by upper house Coalition MP David Davis now falls under Altona state Labor MP Jill Hennessy, who was formerly the Shadow Public Transport Minister.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convener Corey Irlam said the lobby was “looking forward to working with the new Andrews Labor cabinet”, and noted in particular Martin Foley’s position as Equality Minister.

“There are a few more government processes to go, like announcing the appointment of the Gender and Sexuality Commissioner and the process for recruiting community members to the Ministerial Advisory Committee and its working groups,” Irlam told the Star Observer.

The LGBTI-focused commissioner and the two LGBTI-specific Ministerial Advisory Committees — covering health and wellbeing, and law reform — were key election commitments by the Andrews Government.

“We’re also pleased to see the election of Mary Woolridge to the leader of the Opposition in the upper house,” Irlam said.

“Having such strong allies on both sides of Parliament in leadership positions for the upper house will, we hope, help LGBTI legislation navigate its way through what looks like shaping up to be a hostile cross bench.”

The final results for the upper house won’t be known for another couple of weeks, but the cross bench is likely to include a member from the conservative Democratic Labour Party, along with possible members from the Sex Party, Shooters and Fishers and Country Alliance.

The outcome of Prahran is still in doubt, with sitting Coalition MP Clem Newton-Brown ahead by just a fraction of the vote as of midday Thursday.

Even if Newton-Brown doesn’t finish up ahead, the gap between gay Labor candidate Neil Pharaoh and Greens candidate Sam Hibbins stands at less than 100 votes, leaving the race open to victory by any of those three candidates.

With Pharaoh’s fate still undecided, the new Victorian Parliament will still include at least one LGBTI MP, as openly-gay Labor candidate Harriet Shing has been elected to the upper house for the Eastern Victoria Region.

Despite the uncertainty, Newton-Brown has been nominated for deputy leadership of the Liberals, reportedly as part of a bid to advocate a more moderate stance from the opposition.

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