Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams hasintroduced two new faces to his cabinet and moved two senior ministers into different portfolios in the wake of allegations of legislative misspending.
The cabinet shuffle on Wednesday cameamid continued controversyover the provincialauditor general's investigations intospending at the house of assembly.
Auditor General John Noseworthy released a report in June that included criticism ofthe use of constituency allowances by Ed Byrne, who was then the minister of Natural Resources. On Tuesday, the auditor released more reports accusing three more politicians of overspendinghundreds of thousands of dollars from their constituency allowances.
All four men have retained counsel to deal with Noseworthy's allegations.
Dunderdale moves to Natural Resources
In the changes announced Wednesday, Kathy Dunderdale will take over the Natural Resources portfolio fromByrne, who stepped down in June.
Trevor Taylor will take over Dunderdale's former portfolio and become minister of innovation, trade and rural development.
Hickey tapped from central Labrador
There are also two new additions to cabinet:
- Kevin O'Brien, who represents Gander, will move into cabinet as the business minister — a position previously occupied by the premier.
- John Hickey, who represents the Lake Melville district in central Labrador, has become the minister of transportation and works and Labrador affairs.
In the reports released Tuesday,Noseworthy identified a New Democrat member of the house of assembly, Randy Collins, Liberal MHA Wally Andersen and former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Walsh as overspenders.
Premier says allegations prompted shuffle
The premier said Wednesday that it was the right time to put Hickey in the cabinet, especially now that two other Labrador MHAs, Collins and Andersen, are the subject of the auditor general's latest investigations.
'There's a cloud now over ... some of the Labrador MHAs. I think it's important Labrador knows it has a strong voice in this government.'-N.L. Premier Danny Williams
"There's a cloud now over ... some of the Labrador MHAs," Williams said.
"I think it's important Labrador knows it has a strong voice in this government."
Although Williams saidthe cloud of suspicion over Byrne was a big factor in the shuffle, he reiterated that that his former Natural Resources minister wouldbe welcomed back into cabinet if he is cleared.
Byrne is the subject of a police probe, while the auditor'slatest information has been turned over to the Justice Department for a possible police investigation.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.