Mike Baird's cabinet reshuffle a preparation for next election

Mike Baird's first cabinet is indeed, as promised, a mixture of youth and experience.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner - one of the government's most solid if unspectacular performers - has survived. Youthful up-and-comer Dominic Perrottet (Castle Hill MP) has been brought into the fold and handed the important finance portfolio.

But there's also no denying the reshuffle has been undertaken with a close eye on next year's election.

For a start, two of the ministers whose performances Labor was lining up to highlight at next year's poll - Greg Smith (Epping MP) and Robyn Parker - are gone.

"Rewarding key members of the talented, occasionally restive backbench — particularly Hornsby MP Matt Kean and Baulkham Hills MP David Elliott — with parliamentary secretary roles lets them know they are valued and marked for greater things"

Smith's ouster robs the opposition of the chance to accuse the government of having an attorney-general who is "soft on crime" and unwilling to drive through laws to ban outlaw motorcycle gangs and combat gun crime.

Parker's dumping sidesteps the line of attack that she was all about the annexation of public land for private use – as we saw former prime minister Paul Keating accuse her of, in his response to the draft masterplan for the Royal Botanic Garden and the Domain.

She was also the minister who oversaw introduction of hunting in national parks - albeit not to the extent demanded by the Shooters and Fishers Party.

Shifting Brad Hazzard from planning allows a resetting of the negotiation over the overhaul of the NSW planning system.

Hazzard's much-anticipated legislation is dead, having been amended by the upper house to such an extent the government couldn't bring itself to vote for it in the lower house.

Hazzard had knocked heads with both the Shooters and Fishers Party and Labor's Luke Foley over the legislation. The change will allow his successor, Pru Goward, a fresh start.

It's easy to see the elevation of Nationals MP Paul Toole to cabinet as a way of smoothing the way for the sale of the electricity poles and wires.

As a backbencher, Toole spoke strongly against any proposed sale. Bringing him into cabinet makes that far more difficult to do, once a decision has been made.

Elsewhere, rewarding key members of the talented, occasionally restive backbench - particularly Hornsby MP Matt Kean and Baulkham Hills MP David Elliott - with parliamentary secretary roles lets them know they are valued and marked for greater things.

That's not to say challenges don't remain. One of the portfolio appointments to watch will be Hazzard as attorney-general.

Smith was eviscerated by law and order hardliners both within his own party and sections of the media.

Hazzard is a lawyer – but unlike his predecessor, who served as deputy director of public prosecutions before entering politics, he has no coal-face criminal experience.

In NSW, the land of the political law and order auction, this could present some challenges.

In many ways, this is a reshuffle Barry O'Farrell could have been planning - minus, obviously, the new Treasurer and Premier - given the way it sets up the government for what is increasingly looking like a real contest next March.

THE NEW CABINET

Mike Baird

Premier, Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Western Sydney.

Andrew Stoner

Deputy Premier, Minister for Trade and Investment, Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Minister for Small Business and Minister for the North Coast.

Gladys Berejiklian

Minister for Transport,and Minister for the Hunter.

Adrian Piccoli

Minister for Education.

Mike Gallacher

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for the Central Coast, and vice-president of the executive council.

Duncan Gay

Minister for Roads and Freight.

Anthony Roberts

Minister for Resources and Energy.

Jillian Skinner

Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research.

Andrew Constance

Treasurer.

Pru Goward

Minister for Planning, and Minister for Women.

Brad Hazzard

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.

Gabrielle Upton

Minister for Family and Community Services.

Katrina Hodgkinson

Minister for Primary Industries, Assistant Minister for Tourism and Major Events.

Kevin Humphries

Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water, and Minister for Western NSW.

John Ajaka

Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for the Illawarra.

Stuart Ayres

Minister for Fair Trading, Sport and Recreation, Minister Assisting the Premier on Western Sydney.

Victor Dominello

Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Veterans Affairs, Assistant Minister for Education.

Rob Stokes

Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage and Assistant Minister for Planning.

Troy Grant

Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing, and Minister for the Arts.

Dominic Perrottet

Minister for Finance and Services.

Paul Toole

Minister for Local Government.

Jai Rowell

Minister for Mental Health and Assistant Minister for Health.

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