‘Go daddy!’ A clash of worlds as trailblazing NSW cabinet sworn in

August male faces stare down from the walls of the ballroom at Government House, an ornate, mahogany-lined room that’s as close as Sydney gets to European pomp. There’s a rosy-cheeked King George III, an affable King Edward VII, and from a small photograph perched at the back of the hall, a grinning King Charles III.

The hall next door is lined with countless portraits of whiskered governors whose names have long since faded from memory, such as the stern-faced Earl of Belmore (namesake of the suburb and the footy field) and his successor, a balding, rotund Sir Hercules Robinson.

NSW ministers pose for the first time as a group after being sworn in at Government House.

Dion Georgopoulos

The faces that fill these rooms on Wednesday for the swearing in of the new Labor government paint a very different picture. There are children everywhere; kids of Indian, Lebanese and Greek descent, kids with parents from rainbow and blended families, and kids whose parents will juggle football matches and bedtime kisses with the most pressing matters of state.

Corrective Services Minister Anoulack Chanthivong’s family came to Australia as refugees from Laos in 1984, when he was six years old. Treasurer Daniel Mookhey, who is of Indian heritage, swears his oath on the Bhagavad Gita. Customer Services Minister Jihad Dib, of Lebanese Muslim heritage, is the first minister to swear on the Koran.

“Yay! Go daddy!” cries four-year-old Emmett Mookhey, as he watches the proceedings from his mother’s lap in spillover seats in a marquee outside, before spending the latter part of the ceremony running around the gardens.

Dib has six brothers and sisters, three of whom – including boxer Billy Dib – also watch the ceremony from the outdoor marquee. “We’re super excited, super happy for Jihad – he’s worked really hard to be in this position. It’s a bit emotional,” says his brother Mouhamad.

Half of the 22 ministers are women, a gender breakthrough that would have made old Sir Hercules, a firm traditionalist, choke on his brandy.

Most of them are also mothers. Transport Minister Jo Haylen, Finance Minister Courtney Houssos and Water Minister Rose Jackson, whose voice cracks with emotion as she reads her oath, all have primary school children; Haylen has three, including kindergarten-aged twins.

Deputy Premier Prue Car, whose son watches her second swearing-in in two weeks (the most senior ministers were formally sworn in last week), acknowledges the tension between the old world and the new.

“I think this cabinet that’s about to be sworn in certainly reflects … the communities we hope to represent [more] than any cabinet has ever reflected before,” she says. “All the women and men about to be sworn in are ready to get back to work to serve the people of NSW, and to deliver on our commitments.”

After two hours of oaths, the kids are restless. The new ministers gather for their first official photograph near a portrait of former Governor Marie Bashir, the only woman – other than British queens – whose likeness hangs in the ceremonial halls of Government House. This afternoon, the champagne flows. Tomorrow, it’s back to work.

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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