NQ’s Cabinet seat hope
Townsville MP in contention if Premier opts to add ministers
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.