Two weeks have passed since the shock result of the state election in Queensland. The Electoral Commission of Queensland has declared all 89 seats and confirmed a surprise Labor Government, just three years after the ALP were spectacularly turfed out of office. On Sunday, new Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk unveiled her first ministry to the waiting public.
Unsurprisingly, given the turnaround in electoral fortune, it contains a significant proportion of inexperienced ministers, with a few old faces returning to the frontbench. There are some good choices and some bad ones and also some lost opportunities.
The new ministry also rewards those who claimed big scalps at the election.
The ministry is slimmer this time around, with 14 personnel making up the frontline of the Palaszczuk Government as opposed to 19 in the former Newman Government
Premier, Minister for the Arts: Annastacia Palaszczuk:
The accidental Premier. Someone many thought would lose the Opposition Leader job to a returning heavy-hitter such as Cameron Dick.
The excitement of becoming Premier is still there to see on Ms Palaszczuk’s face. Premier Palaszczuk did not have to do much work to earn the title, so will she grow into the role?
The new Premier will have to learn the ropes quickly or the ALP could very easily be a one-term government.
Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport, Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Minister for Trade: Jackie Trad
A rapid rise to prominence for the MLA for South Brisbane. Just three years after replacing former Anna Bligh in a by-election, the former opposition’s spokesperson on Transport and Main Roads, Environment and Heritage Protection, Small Business, Consumer Affairs and the Arts becomes Deputy Premier, coupled with a big portfolio.
Annastacia Palaszczuk aside, Ms Trad was definitely one of the better performing of the ALP’s 9 parliamentary representatives.
The role of Deputy Premier might have been better suited to an MP with ministerial experience like Curtis Pitt who is the new Treasurer or Cameron Dick.
The combination of portfolios is a little strange and is an unnecessary result of the smaller ministry. It would have been ideal if the new Deputy Premier simply had the additional ministry of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, with Transport tacked onto the end. After all, transport is a vital form of infrastructure. The trade portfolio should have been given to Treasurer Curtis Pitt.
Will the diversity of responsibilities be a hindrance?
Treasurer, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships: Curtis Pitt
Unsurprisingly, Curtis Pitt moves from Shadow Treasurer into the Treasury Portfolio.
For someone in such an important portfolio in opposition, he was not seen and heard as much as he should have been over the three years of Campbell Newman’s Government. This could have been a product of the fact that there was no anticipation from the ALP that they would be in government in 2015, or that he would have been replaced in the portfolio by a returning MP.
Employment and Industrial Relations is quite a natural match for the Treasury portfolio, so it is a good move from the ALP Government to link it with the treasury portfolio.
While it can easily be argued that there is an important relationship between employment and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships portfolio, that is not all there is to the latter portfolio. This responsibility should have been given to the Minister for Communities or the Attorney-General.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships portfolio should have gone to one of the two indigenous MP’s who won seats at the election. It beggars belief that this did not occur.
The salient question here is, will we see the modest spending commitments made by Labor in opposition carry through into government? History says no.
Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services: Cameron Dick
It is entirely unsurprising that an MLA with ministerial experience like Cameron Dick was given the health portfolio. The former Attorney-General and Minister for Education has 3 years’ experience in senior ministerial positions.
It is also not a big secret that the MLA for Woodridge was seen as a leadership contender leading up to the election and what better portfolio to give someone with leadership aspirations than the poisoned chalice of the health portfolio? Trouble is, he could shine at the role, repairing relationships with the sector which were broken by the LNP.
While this portfolio is often used to temper the leadership ambitions of colleagues, it should have been given to someone skilled in areas related to the portfolio. Doctor Anthony Lynham would have been the ideal person to take on this job.
The question is whether or not the new minister can get on top of important issues relating to prompt care of patients who present to health facilities?
Minister for Education, Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Small Business, Minister for Commonwealth Games: Kate Jones
The MLA for Ashgrove, who took on Premier Campbell Newman and won back the seat she lost to him in 2012, has been rewarded with a plum role in the form of the education portfolio. Ms Jones brings some ministerial experience to the cabinet table and should again be one of the better performers in the ALP caucus.
Kate Jones has also been given a variety of other roles in what can only be described as a bizarre mismatch of portfolios.
Tourism and Major Events belong together, and should also include the Commonwealth Games portfolio. These responsibilities should have been given to the Minister for State Development. The Minister for Sport and Racing should have also shared in the Commonwealth Games portfolio. Quite clearly, Small Business should have been included in Minister Pitt’s portfolio.
The question here is will the people of Ashgrove like that their returning local member will be busy with such a large portfolio of ministerial responsibilities?
Minister for State Development, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines: Doctor Anthony Lynham
For winning back Stafford for the ALP at a by-election brought on by the resignation of Dr Chris Davis, then of the LNP, Dr Lynham has been given a very important portfolio.
This portfolio combination is sound. As mentioned above however, Dr Lynham should be in the health portfolio.
A question people will want to know the answer to, is just how much development will be allowed by the new minister? Over the last three years the ALP has railed against some key development projects.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Training and Skills: Yvette D’Ath
Yvette D’Ath, another by-election winner has been rewarded with a senior role in the government.
The former federal MP takes on another oddly shaped portfolio. What kind of logic was used in separating the Training and Skills portfolio from either the education or employment portfolios? Terrible logic.
Yvette D’Ath is not the best choice for this position. There are at least two members of the ALP caucus better suited to this position. The Premier should have chosen former Attorney-General Cameron Dick, or high-profile lawyer Peter Russo.
One question with regard to this portfolio is whether the new Attorney-General and the ALP Government will show due deference to the rule of law and principles of justice? Another essential question is will the government be able to swiftly regain the confidence of the legal fraternity?
Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Minister for Corrective Services: Jo-Ann Miller
The combative member for the safe ALP seat of Bundamba, who has sat in the parliament since 2000, picks up a portfolio which was front and centre of the last 3 years in the Newman Government’s response to criminal gangs.
A question on everyone’s lips is how will Jo-Ann Miller deal with the outlaw gang issue? It looks certain that a softer approach is on the way. The rule of law and principles of justice have to be front and centre, while at the same time making sure that the public continue to feel safe.
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Minister for Sport and Racing: Bill Byrne
Bill Byrne is now in his second term as the MLA for Rockhampton. He picks up a ministry different to the one he held while in opposition.
The member for Rockhampton has also been awarded a strange portfolio mix. Agriculture and fisheries go well together, but sport and racing is a strange addition. The latter should have been included in the Tourism and Major Events portfolio as sporting tourism is an important drawcard for visitors to and within Australia.
It was a smart decision to make Bill Byrne the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. His electorate is well-known for agriculture, especially beef production and is in close proximity to the coastline.
A crucial question is how will this minister assist his colleagues in ensuring the ongoing viability of our fisheries as climate change hits and mining impacts take their toll?
Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports, Minister for Energy and Water Supply: Mark Bailey
Mark Bailey is a brand new MP, having beaten former LNP MP Carl Judge in Yeerongpilly. He takes on a large portfolio for a parliamentary newcomer.
Mr Bailey’s portfolio is also a hodgepodge of seemingly mismatched responsibilities. Main Roads should have been kept with Transport, along with Road Safety. Ports should have been included in the Infrastructure or State Development portfolio and those two areas merged into one ministerial area of responsibility.
There are two important questions in this space: What will happen on the ports front? And how well will Mark Bailey work with the self-appointed ‘infrastructure Prime Minister’ on what may well be competing priorities?
Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Science and Innovation: Leeanne Enoch
The story of Leeanne Enoch is one of the best to come out of the 2015 election. The new minister and equally new MLA is one of two indigenous MP’s who were elected to the Queensland Parliament – a first for the state.
But yet again we have a case of confused ministerial priorities and missed opportunities.
The Housing and Public Works portfolio should be closely associated with either the Community Services, Infrastructure or State Development portfolios. The Science and Innovation responsibilities should be wedded with either Education, Employment or even State Development.
While housing is a big issue for indigenous Australians, it is a missed opportunity that Ms Enoch was not appointed to a broadened role relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island affairs, or even Community Services.
A question which has barely been countenanced in this area in recent times is what will be the strategy in relation to homelessness? This appears to be a forgotten issue in Australian politics.
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef: Steven Miles
Yet another first-time MP straight into a ministry. The new member for Mount Coot-tha has been rewarded for unseating Saxon Rice in the inner-city electorate. Over the next 3 years this portfolio will be one of the most widely mentioned in the political arena.
This is the best constructed portfolio of all fourteen ministries. Every aspect of it is interconnected.
People will be wanting an answer to the question of how much this portfolio will focus on the reef and also around Gladstone?
Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Seniors, Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland: Coralee O’Rourke
Coralee O’Rourke unseated a Newman Government Minister in David Crisafulli on January 31 and has been rewarded with what is a vital portfolio, given the aging population and the NDIS, which is in the important trial phase.
The North Queensland focus, while clashing with what is a social policy portfolio, will suit the Townsville-based MP. The North Queensland part of Ms O’Rourke’s responsibilities could however have been given to the state development minister if the Premier had chosen an MP from North Queensland to fill that role.
This is yet another case of picking the wrong candidate. Rob Pyne, a quadriplegic, was also elected to parliament on the 31st of January and given his personal experience with disability, would have been the ideal candidate for this ministry.
A topic of consideration will be what issues the NDIS trials raise and how the government works with other state governments and the federal government to ensure the NDIS becomes fully operational.
Also under consideration will be what additional government support is required in North Queensland.
Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety, Minister for Multicultural Affairs: Shannon Fentiman
Another minister, another rookie MP. Shannon Fentiman joins the Palaszczuk ministry after defeating Mike Latter of the LNP at the January 31 state ballot.
This is quite a large portfolio to start with but could have been even bigger if a streamlined version included disability and other areas of community services.
In the area of multicultural affairs, state governments do very little, especially when the Commonwealth Government has carriage of immigration policy. Nonetheless, making people from different backgrounds feel welcome and included in Australian society is a role state governments can play
There are a number of issues to consider in this area including: homelessness, getting more women and young people into the workforce and protecting children from online dangers.
Leader of the House, Assistant Minister of State Assisting the Premier: Stirling Hinchliffe
Stirling Hinchliffe returns to state parliament after losing his seat along with most of his colleagues in 2012. Mr Hinchliffe has effectively been demoted, given that his last role in government was the Minister for Mining.
Using his experience in key economic portfolios in the former Bligh Government, Mr Hinchliffe’s main task will be to help the new Premier behind the scenes.
As Leader of the House, he will also be both a general and guide to the whole ALP caucus.
First and foremost, we wait to see how well he negotiates with the crossbench. We know that most legislation is likely to be passed. However, it is unlikely everything will be smooth sailing.
Over the weekend the LNP and its leader from outside of parliament, Campbell Newman swept to power in Queensland to take the government benches in an embarrassing rout of an on the nose Bligh Labor Government.
STATE OF THE PARLIAMENT
LNP- 77 predicted according to http://www.abc.net.au/elections/qld/2012/
ALP- 8 predicted according to http://www.abc.net.au/elections/qld/2012/
Katter’s Australian Party- 2 predicted according to http://www.abc.net.au/elections/qld/2012/
Independent MPs- 2 predicted according to http://www.abc.net.au/elections/qld/2012/
The swing away from the ALP was over 15%, a monumental shift in the ALP vote which created this historic state of affairs for the amalgamated LNP, its first election victory as a united force.
MINISTERS KNOCKED OFF
By far the biggest scalp claimed by the LNP on election night was that of the Deputy Premier and Treasurer and MLA for Mount Coot-tha. The new LNP member for this seat will be the giant killer, Saxon Rice. Andrew Fraser was considered by many in the ALP to be a future Labor leader.
Another big scalp comes in the form of the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations, Cameron Dick, the member for Greenslopes, set to be replaced by police officer Ian Kaye. Cameron Dick was also considered future ALP leader material in the post-Bligh era along with the former Deputy Premier and Treasurer.
The latest Queensland Labor Health Minister and representative in the seat of Ferny Grove, after the number of issues facing Queensland Health and as a result of the massive statewide swing also lost his seat. Geoff Wilson will be succeeded by Dale Shuttleworth of the LNP as the member for the suburban seat.
Stirling Hinchliffe was another Bligh Government minister knocked off in the most extraordinary of nights in Queensland politics. The Minister for Employment, Skills and Mining was beaten by the LNP candidate, medical specialist Chris Davis.
Tourism Minister Jan Jarratt lost her idyllic seat of Whitsunday in north Queensland to Jason Costigan of the LNP.
The Minister for Women, Karen Struthers lost her seat of Algester to Anthony Shorten of the LNP, unable to fend off the huge swing against the ALP in the result that was much worse than just about any commentator expected.
Phil Reeves, the Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Sport was beaten by long-time lawyer Ian Walker in the seat of Mansfield. Mr Reeves was on a margin of 4.4% and his seat was always set to go when the swing required for the LNP to take the government benches was more than that required for Mr Walker to win Mansfield.
Sam Cox of the LNP appears to have beaten Craig Wallace the Minister for Main Roads, Fisheries and Marine Infrastructure in the Townsville-based electorate of Thuringowa, achieving a swing of over 9%.
Finally, the Minister for the Environment, Vicky Darling was beaten in what was quite a surprise with the member for Sandgate prior to Saturday night sitting on a margin of over 12%. The swing in the electorate was similar to the statewide swing and the new LNP member for the seat of Sandgate will be Kerry Millard.
THE OUTGOING PREMIER RESIGNS
The morning after the phenomenal result for the LNP, the outgoing Labor Premier Anna Bligh held a press conference where she announced, after promising to stay on, that she would vacate the seat of South Brisbane and the parliament to allow for renewal in the ALP.
This leaves the electorate facing a by-election sometime in the near future which they will not particularly like and does put the seat at some risk in a by-election of falling to the LNP and combined with people’s dislike of by-elections.
SEARCH FOR A LEADER
After the electoral defeat and the resignation of Anna Bligh from the parliament, the ALP will now search, among their 7 or 8 MPs for a leader to take the party forward. With such a low number of seats in the parliament, chances are that the leader will not last until the party is again in an election winning position.
The talk is that the ALP may elect Annastacia Palaszczuk from the electorate of Inala, a minister in the former Bligh Government or even Curtis Pitt the former Minister for Disability Services, Mental Health and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships as Opposition Leader.
A “stop-gap” leader is a real possibility too as is someone of relative youth with some experience like Curtis Pitt when opposition seems a reality for some time yet.
This coming Saturday Queensland will go to the polls with a landslide victory for the LNP a certainty after polls have failed to budge for a significant period of time. Pundits say that the ALP, on the latest polling could see their number of seats in the Queensland Parliament reduced to as little as 12 seats.
Aside from the fact that this would mean a substantial number of backbenchers and new candidates in ALP incumbent seats losing their position or not gaining a spot in the parliament, the polls indicate that a number of Bligh Government ministers are also at risk of losing their seats come Saturday night after polls close.
So just what are the chances of those ministers who will be continuing with their political career at least until after this election has run its course?
Andrew Fraser, if he loses the seat of Mount Coot-tha would be the biggest scalp that the LNP could claim in what is expected to be one of the biggest election victories for a political party in the history of the state of Queensland. Mr Fraser is the current Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade, the highest profile candidate in real danger of losing his seat to Saxon Rice of the LNP.
The Deputy Premier and Treasurer holds the electorate of Mount Coot-tha by a margin which is just 0.7% above the swing needed for the LNP to take the reins of government from the ALP.
This is certainly winnable for Saxon Rice and the LNP who have been ahead in the polls there since last year, recently polling 56.1% to the ALP’s 43.9 2-party-preferred in a poll conducted by ReachTel.
The unknown factor is whether a high Greens vote for Adam Stone will see the incumbent over the line.
MY PICK: Saxon Rice.
The Minister for Health and Member for Ferny Grove has been embattled for some time, struggling to deal with entrenched problems at Queensland Health including waiting lists, a pay debacle and a fake Tahitian prince who allegedly defrauded the department of millions of dollars. This led to an announcement by Premier Anna Blight that the department would be split into two separate bodies, one covering frontline services and the other corporate affairs.
Geoff Wilson holds the seat of Ferny Grove on a slender margin of 4.5%, that is 0.1% below the swing required for an LNP Government. Mr Wilson will face Dale Shuttleworth of the LNP who looks almost certain to win, save for a very good showing by the Greens.
MY PICK: Dale Shuttleworth.
Craig Wallace is the Minister for Main Roads, Fisheries, and Marine Infrastructure and the member for Thuringowa, an electorate based around Townsville in Far North Queensland.
Mr Wallace has consistently been rated as one of the poorest performers in the Bligh Government. He sits in a safe Labor seat with a margin of 8.5% but his position still could be lost to the LNP candidate Sam Cox, particularly after the swing at the last election if that is any indication of the prospects of this under-performing minister. The seat also entirely envelops the federal electorate of Herbert which is held by Ewen Jones of the LNP.
MY PICK: Sam Cox.
Cameron Dick is the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations in the Queensland Parliament and the MLA for the seat of Greenslopes, an inner suburban electorate.
Mr Dick holds this seat by a margin of 6.9% and is more than under threat of losing it at the election, facing defeat at the hands of long-term policeman and LNP candidate Ian Kaye who received a 4.5% to him when contesting this seat at the 2009 election when Anna Bligh and the ALP were returned.
MY PICK: Ian Kaye.
Tim Mulherin is the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies and the sitting member for the seat of Mackay. Mr Mulherin holds this seat by a margin of 16.7%, making Mackay a very safe Labor seat.
Mr Mulherin faces LNP candidate John Kerslake who is likely to erode some of the margin of the incumbent ALP minister.
MY PICK: Tim Mulherin with a much reduced margin.
Stirling Hinchliffe is the Minister for Employment, Skills and Mining in the Bligh Government and the current MLA for the electorate of Stafford near Brisbane. Mr Hinchliffe holds this safe Labor seat by a margin of 7.3% but there will certainly be a major contest for this seat between Mr Hinchliffe and his LNP opponent, Chris Davis.
The electorate of Stafford shares its constituency between the federal Labor held electorate of Lilley and the LNP held seat of Brisbane.
MY PICK: Despite the margin, Chris Davis may well pick this one up, a suburban Brisbane seat that has changed in complexion but it will be a very close contest.
Rachel Nolan is the Minister for Finance, Natural Resources and the Arts and the member for the seat of Ipswich, near Brisbane. This electorate is a very safe Labor seat with a margin of 16.7%.
This seat, regardless of the immense margin required to clinch it by the LNP candidate Ian Berry will be one to watch because of the massive upset that a poll conducted by ReachTel seems to predict. This poll shows that the LNP candidate Mr Berry would win, polling 59.4% to 40.6% for Rachel Nolan. The sample size however is small so may not be so indicative of voting intentions.
MY PICK: Ian Berry in a marginal victory.
Annastacia Palaszczuk is the current Minister for Transport and Multicultural Affairs and MLA for the electorate of Inala, a working class suburb that the electorate is named after and based upon.
The minister and MLA for Inala holds this seat by a margin of 21.5% which even in a complete electoral massacre will not be eclipsed. Her LNP opponent is Joanna Lindgren.
MY PICK: Annastacia Palaszczuk by a significant though reduced margin.
Phil Reeves is the current Minister for Child Safety and Sport and the incumbent for the seat of Mansfield in the outer suburbs of Brisbane. Mr Reeves holds this seat on a slender margin of 4.4% and has been running an intensely local campaign with almost no mention of the Labor brand save for some red signs around the electorate which bear the party name but not the logo.
Phil Reeves faces lawyer Ian Walker of the LNP and looks set to lose this seat after lacklustre performance after poor performance since becoming the MLA for Mansfield.
The margin of 4.4% is 0.2% lower than the absolute minimum swing required by the LNP to form government which will certainly be eclipsed by a substantial margin statewide.
MY PICK: Ian Walker in a canter.
Karen Struthers is the Minister for Community Services, Housing and Minister for Women and the MLA for the seat of Algester, based on the suburb that gives the electorate its name.
The LNP candidate for the electorate is Anthony Shorten who faces a task of eclipsing a margin of 9.2%.
The 8.6% swing that the LNP achieved at the last election in Algester in 2009 will give heart to the LNP candidate that he is in with a shot of taking the seat.
MY PICK: Karen Struthers to retain but by a fairly narrow margin.
Jan Jarratt is the current Minister for Tourism, Manufacturing and Small Business and the MLA for the electorate of Whitsunday. The member for Whitsunday holds this seat with a slender margin of 3.2%.
Jan Jarratt is up against Jason Costigan of the LNP.
MY PICK: Jason Costigan should win this easily.
Simon Finn is the current Minister for Government Services, Building Industry and Information and Communication Technology and the MLA for Yeerongpilly. This electorate has a margin of 8.7%.
Simon Finn is up against the LNP candidate Carl Judge.
MY PICK: Simon Finn is considered by many to be an invisible member in his electorate and though the margin is safe for Labor this will probably go down to the wire on Saturday night. Either candidate by a small margin.
Curtis Pitt is the current Minister for Disability Services, Mental Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. Mr Pitt is the sitting MLA for Mulgrave, holding the safe Labor seat with a margin of 8.1%.
Polls have the LNP candidate Robyn Quick ahead of the sitting ALP MLA but also have the Katter’s Australian Party candidate, Damian Byrnes polling well which could impact significantly on the result in this electorate.
MY PICK: Curtis Pitt to hold on with a possible surprise packet in the KAP candidate.
Vicky Darling is the current Minister for the Environment and the sitting member in the electorate of Sandgate, a seaside part of Queensland, less than an hour from Brisbane.
This seat is consider very safe Labor with a margin of 12.4%. Vicky Darling is up against Kerry Millard of the LNP.
MY PICK: Vicky Darling to win but with a much reduced margin.