Nicola Roxon becomes our first female attorney-general

The former health minister and mother of one Nicola Roxon has been promoted to the office of attorney-general in a cabinet reshuffle. Five women now hold ministry’s in the Labour government

Nicola Roxon is the nation's first female attorney-general after being promoted in yesterday's (December 12) cabinet reshuffle.

The former health minister was one of many women who gained higher positions in the government after months of deliberations by current prime minister Julia Gillard.

And while some commentators have suggested that the decision to make these changes was based on solidifying the PM's position within the party, others were pleased to see more women climbing to the top of the career ladder.

For the first time in Australian history the federal ministry will include five women, with most of them in high-end roles.

Three women – all mothers in their 40s – were recognised for their hard work in other portfolios and will now join the cabinet.

Along with Ms Roxon, Tanya Plibersek, the new Health Minister, and Julie Collins, minister for the Status of Women, are part of the new-look team that was put together by the government.

"Nicola, Tanya and Julie understand from personal experience many of the challenges Australian women face as they seek to build a career whilst having a family," asserted Ms Gillard.

"It's important that Australian women can look at the decision-making of their nation and say that their life's experience is represented there. Nicola, Julie, Tanya, will strengthen our capacity to do that."

Ms Roxon, 44, said that she was looking forward to taking on the different challenges associated with the role of attorney-general, while also being a positive role model for young women.

"I think it's always wonderful and in a way I look forward to the time my daughter, who's six, will live in a country where there won't be many things that will be the first that a woman will be," she told reporters in her home town of Melbourne.

Before entering the parliament Ms Roxon worked as an associate to the country's first female High Court judge Mary Gaudron – an experience that may come in handy as she prepares to take on the tobacco lobby in the High Court.

Speaking of the challenge, which is based on plain packaging laws introduced while she was still health minister, Ms Roxon said the government intended to defend its original position.

"Let there be no mistake, big tobacco is fighting against the government for one very simple reason – because it knows, as we do, that plain packaging will work," she asserted.