HE may have been in federal politics for more than two decades, but Michael Ronaldson is enjoying a fresh challenge.
The Victorian Senator was promoted to the ministry for the first time last month, after the Coalition’s victory in the federal election.
It will be the former member for Ballarat’s most senior role after spending time as a parliamentary secretary during the early Howard years.
“It’s been a long wait but I’m very pleased to be here,” he laughed in an interview with The Courier.
“I’m very much looking forward to the next three years.”
The elevation to the ministry will see Senator Ronaldson hold the portfolios of Special Minister of State and Veteran’s Affairs, an area he has been dealing with in opposition.
It’s also a role that will involve assisting Prime Minister Tony Abbott with the centenary of ANZAC commemorations, set to take place from next year.
Senator Ronaldson said there were enormous challenges in ensuring those who had served were well looked after, particularly in the area of mental health.
“Mental health is a real issue and I want to make sure we’ve got all the processes in place to address that and not play catch-up, which was done during the Vietnam era,” he said.
Senator Ronaldson said the new government would provide a “steady pair of hands” and “calm rational decision-making”.
“We made it quite clear that we needed to get the adults back in the room. I’m sure we will deliver the government that people have been hankering for,” he said.
He also said he was not concerned about the prospects of negotiating with the increase of independents and micro parties joining the Senate from July next year.
“No one’s hitting the panic buttons from our side of it. It’s there, that’s the situation we’ve got, just get on with it,” he said.