NQ’s Cab­i­net seat hope

Townsville MP in con­tention if Premier opts to add min­is­ters

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY an­thony. gal­loway@ news. com. au

NORTH Queens­land’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion around the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment Cab­i­net ta­ble could be boosted.

Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk has re­fused to rule out adding to the num­ber of min­is­ters in her Cab­i­net, de­spite a pre- elec­tion prom­ise to have just 14, and Townsville MP Scott Stewart is con­sid­ered a con­tender. Ms Palaszczuk said she would con­sider a Cab­i­net reshuf­fle at the end of the year, with the per­for­mance of a num­ber of first- term min­is­ters – in­clud­ing Mund­ing­burra MP Co­ralee O’Rourke – to be re­viewed.

The Gov­ern­ment has come un­der fire from the busi­ness com­mu­nity for its pint- sized Cab­i­net, with com­plaints of over­worked min­is­ters fail­ing to con­sult.

A La­bor source said Mr Stewart would be in line for a po­si­tion of min­is­ter or as­sist- ant min­is­ter if the Gov­ern­ment ex­panded its min­istry, but he would face some com­pe­ti­tion.

“There have been calls from MPs and cur­rent min­is­ters for the Cab­i­net to be ex­panded for some time,” the source said.

“There would be a num­ber of a peo­ple on the short­list, in­clud­ing Scott Stewart. But he would be com­pet­ing with peo­ple like ( Mo­ray­field MP) Mark Ryan and ( Sandgate MP) Ster­ling Hinch­liffe, to name a few.”

Mr Stewart said he would ac­cept any pro­mo­tion but was happy serv­ing his elec­torate.

“I’m happy to help the gov­ern­ment in any way, shape or form they see fit for me,” Mr Stewart said.

“My first pri­or­ity is about the peo­ple of Townsville and my elec­torate.’’

Mrs O’Rourke, the Min­is­ter for Dis­abil­i­ties and Se­niors and Min­is­ter As­sist­ing the Premier on North Queens­land, said all min­is­ters were han­dling their work­load de­spite the size of their port­fo­lios.

“We’ve all knuck­led down and we’re all get­ting on with the job and that’s what our fo­cus is on,” she said.

“I think the Premier will as­sess the sit­u­a­tion at the end of the year.’’

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said it would be pos­si­ble to add a min­is­ter with­out break­ing the elec­tion prom­ise, if it could work out a way to make it “cost neu­tral”.

“The min­is­ter com­mit­ment around the size of the Cab­i­net went to the is­sue of sav­ing taxpayers funds,” she said.

“If the Premier and the Gov­ern­ment can de­liver these sav­ings while in­creas­ing the Cab­i­net, I think we have still met our com­mit­ment.”

HAPPY TO HELP: Scott Stewart.

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