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Q: Why was Andrew Gee's veterans' affairs portfolio given to Barnaby Joyce? A: Peace

June 6, 2022

Andrew Gee. Facebook.

By Peter Holmes

Federal MP for Calare Andrew Gee has taken a hit for the team.

When new Coalition leaders Peter Dutton (Liberal Party) and David Littleproud (National Party) revealed their shadow ministry on Sunday afternoon, Gee had been pushed out of shadow cabinet.

The former veterans' affairs minister's portfolio had - in opposition - been handed to former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

Gee, meanwhile, was named as being the new shadow minister for regional health, regional education, regional development, local government and territories. It was quite the load, but none of the positions were within the more senior cabinet.

The Orange News Examiner understands that Joyce has been moved into shadow cabinet by Littleproud in an attempt to stem relentless infighting within the Nationals.

Former Nationals leader, Michael McCormack, has also been welcomed into the fold with the shadow international development & the Pacific portfolio, which sits in the outer ministry. McCormack is thought to still hold leadership ambitions.

The Nationals have been through four leaders (Joyce, McCormack, Joyce, Littleproud) in six years, and its MPs are grappling with what the party should represent in 2022.

In his pitch to MPs during the leadership spill last week Joyce said he would only hang around as leader for 12 to 18 months before passing the baton.

This concept was rejected by National MPs, some of whom felt the plan would only lead to further chaos.

One senior Coalition source told The Orange News Examiner that Joyce was not happy that his 12-18 month plan was rejected, and that Littleproud gave him the shadow veterans' affairs ministry in an attempt to soothe a wounded ego and ensure he didn't go rogue.

There is scepticism it will work.

Gee was not upset about being left out of shadow cabinet when he spoke to The Orange News Examiner late on Sunday.

"David Littleproud is trying to unite the party after a difficult period," he said.

"I think the task now is to get on with the crucially important work of advocating for the regions and making sure we get the services, infrastructure and opportunities we need to continue to grow and prosper."

He described his shadow portfolios as being "really vital for country Australia, and there’s really positive work that can be done in them. These portfolios offer great scope to work with our country communities and develop key policies that take us into the future. I think this is what people want to see and I’m looking forward to that".

Gee said being in opposition after a heavy loss was "going to be a long hard road".

"Part of the work in opposition is holding the government to account and making sure regional Australia is not ignored or left behind. The other part is about formulating strong policies and a clear vision."

There was confusion among Coalition MPs including Gee on Sunday night after two different shadow ministries were issued to the public.

Gee was named (correctly) in one list as being the new shadow minister for regional health, regional education, regional development, local government and territories.

However another list, put out by Littleproud on social media, contradicted this, saying Gee was the new shadow minister for health and education, but not for regional development, local government and territories. The post hadn't been amended by Monday morning.

The veterans' affairs portfolio was moved into cabinet by former PM Scott Morrison in a deal to appease Nationals, however new PM Anthony Albanese took it right back out again upon being sworn in - much to the chagrin of the RSL and others.


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