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Julia Gillard appoints Mark Arbib as Small Business Minister

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has appointed Mark Arbib as the new Minister for Small Business in her cabinet reshuffle.

In a nod to potential startups, Gillard claimed that the move reflects her strong belief that the highest aspiration for working Australians is not necessarily getting a better job, but to start their own small business.

“I will be looking to Mark Arbib as minister for small business to be in touch with the needs of our small business community and for being in touch with Australians who see their future being creating their own small business,” she said.

In a statement, Arbib referred to a small business as being the heart of the economy and that he understood the important role they play in regards to jobs and wealth creation.

“Australia’s more than 2 million small businesses keep the economy ticking over and keep Australians employed,” said Arbib. “They are at the heart of Labor’s  economic policy and I will do everything I can to represent them in the Parliament.”

Arbib will be taking over from Nick Sherry, who has been a senator for Tasmania for 21 years and has announced he will be stepping down. Sherry’s ministerial staff have a grace period of two weeks to move out of their offices before Arbib’s team moves onto the premises.

“Nick has been a tremendous contributor to the Labor team over a large number of years now,” explained Gillard.

“He’s also been an innovative policy thinker, he certainly goes from the ministry to the backbench as a senator for Tasmania with my great personal thanks for the contribution that he has made,” she added.

Sherry also confirmed that while he will continue on as a senator for Tasmania, he will not be contesting the 2013 election. He pointed to the fact he is now 56, has three young children, and consulted with friends outside of parliament before making the decision.

“I am fit, energetic, enjoy good health and I am happy with life,” he said. “I have enjoyed immensely a wide range of responsibilities – in primary industry and resources, superannuation and corporate law, assistant treasurer, small business, tourism, and deregulation.”

Innovation Minister Kim Carr was also on the receiving end of the reshuffle, being moved off his existing portfolio to a non-cabinet position.

“In delivering on our agenda for the economy of the future, Greg Combet will work with Kim Carr who will maintain his long-held passion for Australian manufacturing by becoming the minister for manufacturing as well as the minister for defense materiel,” said Gillard.

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