Ipswich MP dumped as assistant minister but two elevated
THERE is no place for any of Ipswich’s four Labor MPs in Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Cabinet for her historic third term but two local members have been elevated to new assistant minister roles.
Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard, who has held her seat since 2015, has been dumped as an assistant minister altogether.
Ms Howard, Jim Madden, Charis Mullen and Lance McCallum all comfortably retained their safe seats in last month’s state election.
Despite Ipswich being the fastest growing region in Queensland, none of the city’s MPs have been given a position in the new ministry.
Second-term Jordan MP Mrs Mullen and Bundamba MP Mr McCallum, who first won his seat at a by-election in March, will however take on positions as assistant ministers.
Ms Palaszczuk announced on Thursday that Mrs Mullen will be the new Assistant Minister for Treasury and Mr McCallum will be the new Assistant Minister for Hydrogen Development and the 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target by 2030.
The promotions come with a hefty pay rise too.
The base salary for Queensland MPs is $159,122 but assistant ministers get paid an extra $84,292 on top of that.
Ms Howard, who had been serving as the Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Assistant Minister of State since December 2017, has been dropped from those roles.
Three high-profile Labor ministers departed on October 31, which left gaps to fill in the wake of Labor’s comprehensive election win.
Three new faces have been selected as ministers as part of the 18-member Cabinet; Meaghan Scanlon from the Gold Coast, Scott Stewart from Townsville and Leanne Linard from Brisbane.
Ms Howard told the QT last week she was “very willing and able” to become a minister after five years in office.
“The three choices (Ms Palaszczuk) has made in addition to her Cabinet are all excellent additions,” she said.
“I’m passionate about this region and we are the fastest growing region in Queensland.
“Having a voice at the Cabinet table would be a good outcome for this city.
“But we’ll keep fighting for it. The Premier listens and we won’t stop advocating for Ipswich.”
Ms Howard said she was particulary proud of the work she had done with veterans in her time as an assistant minister.
“Assistant ministers are chosen by the Premier and it’s a great experience,” she said.
“We have established the Office for Veterans in the city.
“I’ll keep being a strong voice for Ipswich.”
Ms Howard since said the election she had been working through a long backlog of appointments and she was looking ahead to delivering commitments made on the campaign trail.
The major focus from Labor for Ipswich in the lead up to October 31 was health, with promises made to build a $40 million satellite hospital for the city and set up a $24.5 million drug and alcohol rehab service.
A new mental health unit for the Ipswich Hospital is expected to be completed by late next year.
West Moreton Health will decide where the new facilities will be located.
“We will be demolishing the current mental health unit so that will free up more space,” Ms Howard.
“We’ve bought those council buildings (in the CBD) as well.
“It’s really up to West Moreton Health as to how they make it work.
“For me the focus is on the budget.
“Once the budget is in place there will be a clear outline of how everything will be spent.”
Jordan MP Mrs Mullen, who secured her second term, has been busy supporting Springfield Lakes residents impacted by the severe hailstorms on election night.
She believed the wider Ipswich region will still be well represented over the next four years despite having no local MPs in the Cabinet.
“The new Cabinet is a fantastic group of people that bring experience, diversity, and new energy,” she said.
“It’s really great to see that mix of experienced hands but also those bringing new perspectives to the table.
“The Ipswich region is well represented by four very strong (MPs).
“Together we are working closer than ever on furthering the interests and needs of our Ipswich communities and this is reflected in the many commitments that were made.
“I am excitedly waiting for ministers to formally get behind their desks so I can begin to meet with them.
“There is a lot I want to achieve in the next four years.”
Mrs Mullen said she was “absolutely” honoured to take on her new role.
“My role is to support the Premier and Treasurer with our ongoing economic recovery in Queensland,” she said.
“Every day I will be fighting for more jobs and more investment opportunities for our state.
“The next four years will be busy but I am looking forward to the additional responsibility.
“My priority is always to the people of the Jordan electorate and I am confident I will be able to balance both roles.”
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.