Ministers on deadline

NEW Labor ministers will have just four weeks to make their mark on key portfolios, but say they're ready to seize the fleeting opportunity.

As dumped Greens ministers Nick McKim and Cassy O'Connor began the task of clearing out of their offices, the new all-Labor ministry was sworn in yesterday at Government House. 

Premier Lara Giddings sacked Mr McKim and Ms O'Connor on Thursday, but has refused to criticise their performance. 

Attorney-General Brian Wightman, who takes over the education portfolio, yesterday said Labor supporters wanted the Greens out of cabinet. 

``I agree with many decisions Nick made and there are others I disagree with,'' Mr Wightman said. 

Mr Wightman, a former high school principal, said schools should continue to be offered incentives to merge if it had community support.  

``We must continue to have difficult decisions and difficult discussions about education in Tasmania, that is the only way that we will improve literacy and numeracy results,'' Mr Wightman said.  

Labor backbencher Rebecca White was promoted to Human Services Minister and leader of the government in the Legislative Council, while Craig Farrell picks up corrections and sustainable transport. 

Premier Lara Giddings added community development, climate change and Aboriginal affairs to her responsibilities. 

The new ministers will be briefed by department staff over the next few days.

Mr Farrell said the new job title came as a surprise, but he was not worried about the short-term nature of the appointment.

``They say a day is a long time in politics, it certainly is, I think a lot can be done in four weeks.''

Ms White said she was still working out her priorities for the next month.

Mr McKim wished the new ministers all the best. 

``By any measure all of the portfolios that were held by the Greens for the last four years are in significantly better shape than when we inherited them,'' Mr McKim said.  

As well as losing their titles and responsibilities, Mr McKim and Ms O'Connor will take a pay cut, no longer have access to a vehicle and driver each and must vacate their ministerial offices.

About a dozen of their ministerial staff have been offered a transfer to the new ministers' offices, but are expected to either return to their former jobs in the public service or take a voluntary redundancy package.

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