The Victorian government has unveiled the frontbench it expects to take to the November state election and crowned a new deputy premier.
Transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan will replace James Merlino as deputy premier, after he was one of four senior Labor ministers to announce their retirement and step down from cabinet on Friday.
Labor MPs Lizzie Blandthorn, Colin Brooks, Steve Dimopoulos, Sonya Kilkenny and Harriet Shing will fill the ministerial vacancies, although their exact responsibilities are not yet finalised.
Maree Edwards was elected to replace Brooks as speaker, while Natalie Suleyman will become deputy speaker.
The changes were unanimously backed by the Victorian Labor caucus during a meeting at parliament house on Saturday.
The new ministry will be sworn in at government house on Monday.
Allan will officially become the second female deputy premier in Victoria’s history.
“It’s a tremendous privilege and it’s one that I know comes with the additional responsibilities but it also builds on the work I’ve been doing every single day as a regional MP in Bendigo,” she said.
Her promotion cuts across Labor convention to share the two top jobs between the left and right factions, given Andrews and Allan are both members of the former.
Andrews disputes any such convention exists, pointing to flexibility under the Brumby and Bracks governments of yesteryear.
“Rob Hulls and John Brumby were not from different groups. Let me go one step further, John Thwaites and Steve Bracks were not from different groups,” he said.
Asked if the pair had spoken about a handover, Andrews said: “No, not at all.”
Earlier, Merlino said he would support Allan as his replacement despite her coming from the socialist left faction.
“I’ve sat at the front table with Jacinta for 10-and-a-half years. She’ll be a fantastic deputy,” he said.
Retiring MP and former sports minister Martin Pakula, another member of Victorian Labor’s right faction, similarly backed Allan.
“She’s the longest serving Labor minister in history and she’ll make a great deputy premier,” he said.