Key gay and lesbian community supporters were among the big winners in the bloodletting that saw a major reshuffle of the NSW Government.
The unanimous election of Carmel Tebbutt as deputy premier last week revived hopes of progress on same-sex adoption and a NSW relationship register. Tebbutt has often participated in Mardi Gras events and Rainbow Labor fundraisers, and has spoken out in favour of equality reforms.
Tebbutt joined new Education Minister Verity Firth in demanding action on the overdue lesbian parenting reforms passed earlier this year.
Linda Burney, another GLBT fundraiser regular, replaced Christian conservative Kevin Greene as community services minister, making her responsible for the same-sex adoption reforms that have sat idle for two years. Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, who drafted the lesbian parenting reforms but doesn’t want a NSW relationship register, remains in the portfolio.
Matt Brown is the new police minister, replacing David Campbell who established the homophobic violence workshop.
Premier Nathan Rees comes into the top job with a history of rhetoric in support of equality and fairness. Mum has always backed the underdog, the marginalised and the minorities, including the Left, Rees said upon entering the Parliament last year.
Earlier this year he accused Cardinal George Pell of world-class hypocrisy and demanded the Catholic archbishop apologise for threatening damnation on state MPs who voted against church doctrine.
Prominent community member Penny Sharpe MLC said the new team was good news for the GLBT community.
I’m delighted to see Carmel returned to the front bench. She’s a well-respected and strong voice in cabinet, Sharpe said.
However, a Labor insider told Sydney Star Observer the urgency of the party’s economic agenda may not leave enough time for another equality reform before the 2011 election.
Update: Just hours after going to print Matt Brown resigned as police minister a mere three days into the job. A new minister is yet to be named.