Ryan Park’s promotion to Labor treasury spokesman was made on the back of his fight to save the Illawarra steel industry, Opposition Leader Luke Foley says.
The Keira MP’s fighting spirit and passion for the region was on show in state parliament on Thursday – Mr Park’s first day in his new role saw him given the boot from a rowdy question time for repeatedly interjecting.
Mr Park, who previously held the transport portfolio, said he was honoured to be given the opposition treasury role – the third highest position within the party’s parliamentary team – but conceded he had “a big job to do”.
“It truly is an honour to be given such an important role in the opposition,” he said.
“Our economy is going through significant challenges as we transition and this role will ensure that I can continue to advocate strongly for our region when it comes to investment, accelerating job opportunities and focusing on improving frontline services for our community.”
Mr Park retained his Illawarra portfolio in the opposition frontbench reshuffle, which was announced early on Thursday morning.
The shake-up was sparked by the departure of former deputy leader Linda Burney, who is shifting to federal politics.
Mr Foley said Mr Park’s job was to hold Premier Mike Baird and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian to account for “ripping billions from hospitals and schools and failing to stand up to Canberra to get a fair funding deal for NSW”.
Mr Park’s fight to save the Port Kembla steelworks was a factor in his promotion, Mr Foley said.
“He is a passionate advocate for jobs and growing the Illawarra economy. His advocacy for the Illawarra steel industry played an important role in my decision to appoint him as Labor’s shadow treasurer.”
Asked how he was at maths, Mr Park said: “My wife would say I’m not too bad”.
Treasury had been the responsibility of recently-elected deputy leader Michael Daley, who now takes on planning and infrastructure and gaming and racing.
Park ‘upsizes’ political position
From Maccas to teacher, now treasury – the rise of Ryan Park over a short period of time can be described as somewhat remarkable.
Mr Park, the Labor Member for Keira since 2011, grew up in Dapto and attended Lakelands Primary School.
He was school captain of Dapto High School, before studying education at the University of Wollongong and even had a stint as a shift supervisor at Figtree McDonalds along the way.
The teacher-turned-politician taught at Lake Illawarra High School, before moving to the Department of Education as a curriculum adviser.
He started his career as a political adviser from 2004 to 2009 and spent time as deputy director general for Transport NSW prior to his election as Keira MP.
Also on Mr Park’s political résumé is his role as the state opposition’s Illawarra spokesman since December 2013.
Immediately prior to his promotion to the shadow treasury, he had been responsible for the transport and infrastructure portfolio.