Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp admits he was “proud and humbled” to be asked to join Labor leader Chris Minns’ new-look “team”.
The party recently underwent a major overhaul after suffering a disappointing loss to The Nationals in the Upper Hunter by-election, won by Clarence Town’s David Layzell.
The defeat also resulted in Jodi McKay stepping down from her position, opening the door for Mr Minns to claim the top job.
He then promoted five MPs to the frontbench for the first time, including Anoulack Chanthivong, Steve Kamper, Rose Jackson, Courtney Houssos and Mr Crakanthorp.
The local member will take on the duties of Shadow Minister for Skills and TAFE and Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education.
“I’ve been a Parliamentary Secretary and a chairman of the Labor caucus before,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“But, this is my first shadow portfolio.
“I’ve got a real passion for education.
“My wife’s a teacher and my parents were both teachers.
“I’ve worked in adult education myself for a number of years, too.
“I believe everyone, regardless of where they live and what their income is, should have access to education because it provides that big opportunity for everyone to get ahead.”
Mr Crakanthorp declared one of his major objectives was to hold the current NSW Government to account.
“When they did the first round of cutbacks to TAFE, enrolments at the Hunter TAFE went from 65,000 to 25,000,” he said.
“That gives you a very stark example of the effects of the cuts this government had on Hunter TAFE in particular.
“They’re onto their third round, only just now they’re actually cutting all of the security staff.
“They’re sacking them and putting out a tender for security.
“That money will go into the pockets of a private operator to run all the TAFE security across the state.
“That’s numerous people now out of a job.
“This is just one of many, many rounds.
“So, one, is to hold the government to account; two, is to go to the election with a policy that puts the energy and the life and commitment back into the TAFE.
“This government is ideologically opposed to public provision of vocational education.”
Mr Crakanthorp also praised the efforts of his predecessors Jihad Dib (Skills and TAFE) and Cessnock’s Clayton Barr (Tertiary Education).
“They’ve both done an excellent job in these roles and I appreciate their hard work,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“However, there’s a third portfolio and that is ‘University’.
“Clayton had that one, too, so I’ll be sitting down with him, getting a handover and seeing what the big concerns are.
“Locally, we’ve got some issues with the appointment of the new Chancellor at the University of Newcastle.
“That’s creating a lot of angst and conflict with his coal mining chairmanship front and fore of the community when we’re looking to renewables and hydrogen research and so many other positive things coming out of Newcastle.
“Everyone was very surprised by his appointment.”
Charlestown’s Jodie Harrison will serve as Shadow Minister for Women, Seniors and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence.
“I’m honoured to be part of the new NSW Labor Shadow Cabinet,” she said.