THE Prime Minister has reshuffled her Cabinet following last week’s leadership drama, appointing an intercity member to look after the interests of regional Australia and local governments.

Anthony Albanese will take over from Simon Crean, one of number of high ranking Cabinet members to step down as part of the post-challenge fallout.

Mr Albanese said he was passionate about Local Government and had a long history of advocating a closer relationship between local representatives and the Federal Government.

He said he would continue to advocate on behalf of regional Australia to make sure it benefited the growing economy.

“After all, regional communities are at the heart of our nation’s continuing economic success and prosperity,” he said.

But Mr Albanese’s appointment has been slammed by opposition Regional Development, Local Government and Water spokesman Barnaby Joyce.

“Ms Gillard has decided that the best place to understand regional Australia is from Marrickville (Sydney),” he said.

“It is a slap in the face of what the term regional means and nobody in regional areas can take this portfolio under (Prime Minister) Gillard seriously any more.

“How can this government possibly represent regional Australia when they do not have a single minister based in a regional area?”

Senator Joyce said it was Mr Albanese’s second time in the portfolio having held the position from 2007 to 2010.

“He managed to strip $1 billion out of regional programmes in the first budget alone and $500 million from the Regional Partnerships and Growing Regions programmes.

“Area Consultative Committees were abolished and along with it 500 voluntary committee positions and 150 jobs. After breaking his promise of retaining these programs Mr Albanese even refused to fund projects already approved for funding by the former Government.”

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