Home Ministry of affairs Labor campaign star Jason Clare could be the new Home Secretary

Labor campaign star Jason Clare could be the new Home Secretary


The defeat of shadow cabinet ministers Kristina Keneally and Terri Butler opened up two immediate vacancies among the 30-person ministry.

Ms Keneally, of NSW Right, was the party’s home affairs spokeswoman and deputy leader of the Senate.

The deputy role will likely be filled by South Australian broker Don Farrell if he chooses, although that would leave only Senator Wong as the only female member of Labour’s four-person leadership team.

Sources said Mr Clare, who is housing spokesman and crafted the Labor Party’s centerpiece shared housing policy, could be rewarded with promotion to the highest profile and most important in domestic affairs.

The other option is Brendan O’Connor who could be moved from defense. Mr Marles is widely tipped to become defense minister and currently administers the department under the interim ministerial arrangements.

Mr O’Connor and Mr Clare were both Home Secretary in the Rudd and Gillard governments when the portfolio was much smaller, and dealt first hand with the catastrophic rise in boat arrivals.

A source said the right would prefer to retain the role of Home Affairs to prevent a loosening of policy, although Mr O’Connor was sufficiently marked in the portfolio to push Labor to accept the need to deter boat arrivals .

Ms Keneally’s vacancy was created after she failed in her bid to move to Fowler in Sydney’s west after a backlash from locals, who backed independent Dai Le.

Ms Keneally’s bid for change was necessitated after the powerful Shop Assistants Union insisted that backbench MP Deborah O’Neill be given first place on the NSW Senate ticket.

While Senator O’Neill is one of the names in the mix for the vacancy, sources said there was a lot of anger against her for forcing Ms Keneally to parachute into Fowler and ultimately lose the seat , hampering Labor’s efforts to form a majority government.

As well as Ms Keneally’s vacancy, the right must also nominate another woman to ensure the party meets its 45 per cent affirmative action target for women in ministry.

The right must also provide additional ministers in the Senate, to help share the burden of question time and estimates. Senator Farrell is the only right-wing member of the Senate, compared to three from the left.

The favorite to replace left-wing Ms Butler, who was environment spokeswoman, at the department is NSW Senator Jenny McAllister, who serves as cabinet secretary and is close to Mr Albanese.

But what complicates matters is that West Australians are demanding greater representation after a stunning performance that saw Labor win four seats in the lower house of government, and likely a seat in the Senate as well.

Sources said Perth MP Patrick Gorman had shown interest but could be ruled out on gender grounds, while Cowan MP Anne Aly and Senator Louise Pratt are also putting forward their demands.

“They can’t even agree on who their nominee will be because they all want him,” a senior source said.