Luke Howarth

After almost 12 months of relatively clear air, Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones finally has an opponent.

Luke Howarth, MP for the Brisbane seat of Petrie, was on Tuesday named Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services in a front-bench reshuffle by opposition leader, Peter Dutton.

Howarth had previously been shadow minister for defence industry and personnel. During the Morrison government, he was Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services; and Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services.

“Luke understands that small business is the backbone of the Australian economy,” Dutton said in a statement.

“He has previously run a family business before entering parliament and has a strong understanding of the financial pressures many Australians are currently experiencing under the government’s cost of living crisis. Luke will bring his strong command of retail economics to this important role.”

The appointment ends a long period in which the Coalition has opted not to have a full-time shadow minister in the portfolio, leaving shadow treasurer Angus Taylor to be the primary spokesperson on superannuation and financial services since the resignation and subsequent departure of Stuart Robert.

‘Critical portfolio area’

The party has also had a de facto shadow in outspoken Coalition MP Andrew Bragg, a former Financial Services Council staffer and critic of trade union influence in the super sector.

Bragg, who is believed to be an increasingly influential player in the depleted moderate wing of the NSW Liberal Party after the so-called “teal wave” of independent wins in wealthy seats at the last federal election, was arguably overlooked for the job, but has been appointed to the newly created role of Shadow Assistant Minister for Home Ownership.

“Andrew’s astute policy mind and advocacy will stand him in good stead for this critical portfolio area for the Coalition under my leadership,” Dutton said.