MP Windsor confident Albanese can handle regional role
KEY independent MP Tony Windsor says Anthony Albanese was the right choice to take the reins for regional development.
Despite questions over his role in last week's leadership debacle, Prime Minister Julia Gillard showed faith in Mr Albanese in the Cabinet reshuffle, adding regional development and local government to his existing infrastructure and transport responsibilities.
Mr Windsor said he confident Mr Albanese - who held the same ministerial responsibilities from 2007-10 - would handle the extra workload.
He said the Regional Development Australia Fund, a key tenet of Mr Windsor and Rob Oakeshott's agreement to help Labor form government, was a natural fit with Mr Albanese existing role.
"If I'd been asked who I would have chosen I would have chosen Anthony Albanese," Mr Windsor said on ABC radio.
"They're (the remaining RDAF rounds) essentially about regional infrastructure so it's not that he'll struggle or have to learn much to get up to speed with this."
Mr Windsor said he enjoyed a good working relationship with Mr Albanese, who as Leader of the House has been heavily engaged with the independents.
"I like the man. I think he's worked extremely hard in this particular Parliament," Mr Windsor said.
He rejected Coalition claims the government had broken a promise by splitting the regional Australia portfolio.
As part of the reshuffle Ms Gillard created a new outer ministry, with Catherine King taking responsibility for regional services, local communities and territories.
"If anything there will be two people that are paying attention to it (regional issues)," he said.
"She (Ms King) understands regional Australia, she comes from regional Australia. Anthony Albanese knows these issues very well and the link with local government has always been a good one, and that's maintained as well."
The Member for New England also had some kind words for Simon Crean, who was forced to relinquish the regional Australia ministry after the failed challenge on Ms Gillard's leadership.
Mr Windsor said Mr Crean was one of the few people in the Parliament who understood the portfolio.
"I had a lot of time for Simon Crean. I thought he was a very good minister and I think he got the regional Australia scenario quite well," he said.
"Not many people in the Parliament do, from both sides ... including the Liberals and Nationals. Simon did."