Damian Drum our new minister for sport and veterans affairs

VICTORIAN Premier Denis Napthine has announced Nationals MP Damian Drum as the new Minister for Sports and Veterans Affairs.

Premier Denis Napthine has freshened up his frontbench in the lead up to the state election, promoting a handful of MPs into the cabinet.

Mr Drum is the Nationals member for Northern Victoria region.

Mr Drum, Tim Bull and Russell Northe join Liberals Nick Wakeling and Inga Peulich in the cabinet.

Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge remains in the ministry despite not having a seat – she recently lost preselection in Kew.

Dr Napthine said Ms Wooldridge had a bright future and was a valuable part of his team.

“Mary Wooldridge wants to continue being a minister and wants to continue in parliament,’’ Dr Napthine said.

The Premier evaded questions about what, and if, a seat had been identified for Ms Wooldridge, other than to say she was a good minister and a vital member of the government.

Despite some speculation, former premier Ted Baillieu was not included in the ministry.

The five MPs replace retiring ministers Nicholas Kotsiras, Hugh Delahunty, Peter Hall, and Jeanette Powell.

Mr Bull, in his first term, will take over from Ms Powell as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Local Government.

Mr Drum, a former Geelong footballer and Fremantle coach, is the new Minister for Sports and Veterans Affairs, replacing Mr Delahunty.

Mr Northe, who represents the area affected by the Hazelwood fires, is now in charge of energy and resources as well as small business, a position previously held by Mr Kotsiras.

Mr Wakeling, who was formerly cabinet secretary, has been promoted to Minister for Higher Education & Skills and replaces Mr Hall who made his valedictory speech on Thursday in parliament.

Ms Peulich takes over from Mr Wakeling as cabinet secretary.

Other changes include, Planning Minister Matthew Guy adding multicultural affairs to his portfolio.

Despite saying Dr Napthine saying he did not want retiring MPs in the ministry, two parliamentary secretaries, Andrea Coote and Bill Sykes, remain in their positions even though they are not contesting the election.

with THE AGE

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