No time to lose: Palaszczuk mulls new look Cabinet

Counting continues in four close seats but Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk wants ministers ready for work.

Nov 06, 2020, updated Nov 06, 2020
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, with key Cabinet ministers Steven Miles (left) and Cameron Dick after the last Cabinet reshuffle. (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, with key Cabinet ministers Steven Miles (left) and Cameron Dick after the last Cabinet reshuffle. (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Almost a week after the election, counting continues but Labor will return stronger with at least 51 of the 93 seats in State Parliament.

The November 10 deadline for postal votes means the election result may not be officially finalised for some days. This has led the major parties to delay making plans for the term until all MPs can have a say.

In Springfield today, Palaszczuk was asked about her plans for a new Cabinet to guide Labor into its third term and said it was on her agenda.

“I’m turning my mind to that and we’re still waiting on some results, of course, with the Electoral Commission,” Palaszczuk said,

“We still are waiting Nicklin, Bundaberg, Currumbin and Burleigh.”

With three ministers having retired at the election, but their seats already decided, Palaszczuk was asked if there would be more Cabinet movements and said “not many”. She would not be drawn on whether second term ministers faced demotion.

The ministers who didn’t retire technically remain in their roles under the caretaker convention, however the assistant ministers, considered a talent pool for Cabinet, lost their jobs on election might. Of the previous assistant ministers, Gold Coast MP Meaghan Scanlan, from the dominant Left faction, is considered the best prospect for promotion, replacing retiring Left minister Coralee O’Rourke.

There has been speculation Leanne Linard will fill the Labor Unity faction spot vacated by retiring minister Kate Jones, while Scott Stewart could replace retiring minister Anthony Lynham from the Right. The factional balance will be broadly similar, however the final distribution of seats may lead to some argy-bargy, especially on the Gold Coast.

Palaszczuk may also look to give more authority to members in regions that Labor needs to hold in 2024, such as Townsville. Cameron Dick will remain treasurer, and deputy Steven Miles is expected to keep the health portfolio, however the composition of the four-person Cabinet Budget Review Committee also needs to be decided.

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Meanwhile, the LNP, likely to be returned with 35 members, still needs to vote on who should take charge of the opposition after leader Deb Frecklington and deputy Tim Mander resigned in the wake of the election loss. Gold Coast MP David Crisafulli and Toowoomba MP David Janetzki are the front-runners, but the vote will be delayed as a courtesy to candidates in close seats.

In Nicklin, the LNP incumbent, Marty Hunt, was only 77 votes ahead of Labor’s Robert Skelton at lunchtime Friday, with Greens preferences expected to play a pivotal role.

In Bundaberg, Labor’s Tom Smith had a stronger lead, albeit only 533 votes ahead of LNP incumbent David Batt, while in Currumbin the LNP incumbent Laura Gerber was holding on with a 1635-vote lead over Labor’s Kaylee Campradt. Again, preferences may prove crucial.

In Burleigh, Palaszczuk’s hand-picked candidate, former surfer Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, was still trailing the LNP incumbent, Michael Hart, by 1,011 votes, without taking into account preferences.

Parliament will resume at the start of December, when Dick will deliver the state budget.

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