The government’s decision to rejig the financial services and superannuation portfolio handled by Bill Shorten has been criticised by the opposition, which claims breaking up the role downgrades its importance.

In a recent cabinet reshuffle, Chris Bowen was confirmed as treasurer with David Bradbury named assistant treasurer and, among other portfolios, “minister assisting for financial services and superannuation”.

Bowen preceded Shorten as minister for financial services and superannuation in 2009. Shorten has a new role as both minister for education and minister for workplace relations.

However, the opposition claims the government has “significantly downgraded” the importance of financial services and superannuation by eliminating a minister with dedicated responsibility.

“The Treasurer’s responsibilities have always included financial services and superannuation,” said Senator Mathias Cormann.

“However, in the past a dedicated Minister had specific responsibilities for this important area.

“Instead, the Rudd Labor government has decided to downgrade financial services and superannuation to a mere minister-assisting position.

“This continues the progressive downgrading of financial services and superannuation under the current Labor government, with a part-time financial services and superannuation minister in Bill Shorten over the past year.”