Wong had been keen to move from the climate change portfolio, following her failure to have parliament's upper house (Senate) approve the government carbon pollution reduction scheme.
A hardworking minister, Wong's promotion nonetheless, came as a surprise when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her ministry today.
Born on Nov 11, 1968 in Kota Kinabalu, Wong takes over the finance portfolio left vacant by the high-profile Lindsay Tanner when he retired from federal politics in the Aug 31 election.
A former lawyer in Adelaide, Wong was elected to represent South Australia in the Senate in 2001 and was named minister in charge of climate change, energy efficiency and water when Kevin Rudd won office in 2007.
Wong, a lesbian, was the first sitting member of the Australian Labor Party to "come out" while still in parliament.
Gillard says, her new ministry delivers on a promise to establish a portfolio dedicated to regional Australia.
It will be headed by Simon Crean, previously responsible for education and workplace relations, and before that, trade.
Factional power brokers
The announcement on Saturday comes four days after her Labor Party secured the support of two rural independents to form minority government in the first hung federal parliament in 70 years.
Gillard earlier in the day announced former prime minister Kevin Rudd had been appointed foreign minister, replacing Stephen Smith, who moves to defence.
Greg Combet becomes climate change minister, a step up from his assistant role to Wong.
Mark Arbib, one of the factional power brokers responsible for bringing down Rudd, was not rewarded with a cabinet position.
Penny Wong is a direct immigrant to Australia and yet the Australians have no qualms in appointing her to such an important post, simply because it's the best man for the job. Here in Malaysia, after so many generations, non-Malay politicians are still appointed to nondescript ministries and strangely, these appointees are so contented with it. Well, I guess the finance ministry is where the petty cash is and I doubt UMNO is going to appoint a non-Malay, more so a Chinese, back to the job any time sooner. The finance ministry was last held by the late Tun Tan Siew Sin until UMNO decide to head it in the early seventies.