Shadow cabinet of Australia

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In Australian federal politics, the shadow cabinet is the opposition's equivalent to the federal cabinet. It comprises the most senior figures within the opposition, headed by the leader of the opposition as the counterpart to the prime minister of Australia.

The shadow cabinet is the highest level of the shadow ministry (or "opposition frontbench"), which also includes other less senior shadow ministers (equivalent to the government's "outer ministry") and shadow assistant ministers. The members of the shadow ministry are assigned one or more portfolios, usually though not necessarily corresponding to an existing ministerial portfolio within the government. They serve as the opposition's chief spokespeople on matters within their portfolio, and during parliamentary question time may direct questions at their government equivalent. If the opposition forms government, such as through winning a federal election, it is typical for members of the shadow ministry to retain the same portfolio.

The current shadow cabinet as of June 2022 is the Dutton shadow cabinet.

Role and functions[edit]

According to Bateman (2008), the shadow cabinet exists as a "recognised component of the parliamentary system" but "the functions, roles and practices of the Shadow Cabinet are far less clear than those of the Cabinet".[1]

The role of the shadow ministry in making opposition policy has varied.[2]

Meetings of shadow cabinet are less formal than actual cabinet meetings, typically lasting a shorter time.[3]


In May 1965, the Australian Labor Party Caucus voted to establish a formal shadow ministry of 25 members.[4] This replaced an earlier "opposition executive" consisting of 14 members.[5]

Since 1987, the shadow ministry has had at least as many members as the ministry, and sometimes more. Shadow parliamentary secretaries (known as shadow assistant ministers since 2016) were first appointed in 1990.[6]

Current arrangement[edit]

Shadow Minister Portfolio[7] Image
Peter Dutton MP
Sussan Ley MP
Senator Marise Payne
  • Shadow Cabinet Secretary till 30/9/2023
Senator Jane Hume
  • Shadow Minister for Finance
  • Shadow Special Minister of State
  • Shadow Minister for the Public Service
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price
  • Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians
Senator Susan McDonald
  • Shadow Minister for Resources
  • Shadow Minister for Northern Australia
Ted O'Brien MP
  • Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy
David Littleproud MP
Senator Perin Davey
Senator Jonathon Duniam
  • Shadow Minister for Environment, Fisheries and Forestry
Senator Simon Birmingham
  • Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
  • Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs
Kevin Hogan MP
  • Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism
Senator Michaelia Cash
  • Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
  • Shadow Attorney-General
  • Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Senator Sarah Henderson
  • Shadow Minister for Education
Angus Taylor MP
  • Shadow Treasurer
Paul Fletcher MP
  • Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy
  • Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts
  • Manager of Opposition Business in the House
Michael Sukkar MP
  • Shadow Minister for Social Services
  • Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • Shadow Minister for Housing
  • Shadow Minister for Homelessness
Senator James Paterson
  • Shadow Minister for Home Affairs
  • Shadow Minister for Cyber Security
Dan Tehan MP
  • Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship
Senator Anne Ruston
  • Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Shadow Minister for Sport
  • Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate
Senator Bridget McKenzie
  • Leader of the National Party in the Senate
  • Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development
David Coleman MP
  • Shadow Minister for Communications
Andrew Hastie MP
  • Shadow Minister for Defence
Barnaby Joyce MP
  • Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs

Salary and benefits[edit]

As of July 2019, ordinary shadow ministers were entitled to either a 20 or 25 percent loading on top of the base parliamentary salary. The loading depends on the number of shadow ministers. Officeholders within the opposition receive higher loadings, up to 87 percent for the leader of the opposition.[8] Historically, ordinary shadow ministers received no additional salary compared to backbenchers but were granted an additional staffing allowance.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bateman 2008, p. 1.
  2. ^ Bateman 2008, p. 4.
  3. ^ Bateman 2008, p. 24.
  4. ^ Bateman 2008, p. 9.
  5. ^ Bateman 2008, p. 10.
  6. ^ "The (official) Opposition". House of Representatives Practice. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Shadow Ministry - The 47th Parliament". Australian Parliament House. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Salary". Department of Finance. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  9. ^ Bateman 2008, p. 7.