Tourism Minister Kate Jones has previously served as Commonwealth Games minister. Photo: Tammy Law Stirling Hinchliffe’s decision to resign as a minister has left a vacancy in Queensland’s cabinet.
The MP to take up Mr Hinchliffe’s old job is likely to be a member of the right faction, the Labor Forum. Photo: Glenn Hunt
Jackie Trad is acting Transport Minister. Photo: Bradley Kanaris
Stirling Hinchliffe’s seat in the Queensland cabinet has only just begun to cool but speculation is likely to heat up on who will be offered what could be considered a poisoned chalice as the next transport minister.
Mr Hinchliffe’s resignation from his job as transport and Commonwealth Games minister came only moments after the release of Commissioner Phillip Strachan’s report into the failings within Queensland Rail. Several factors had culminated in a lack of train drivers that led to hundreds of services being cancelled in Brisbane in 2016.
Despite the blame not being pointed in Mr Hinchliffe’s direction, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the saga had taken a personal toll on the minister and his family, leading to him stepping down.
With a state election to be held later this year, Mr Hinchliffe’s decision also allows the government to move forward, with all 36 recommendations of the report accepted and Mr Strachan appointed as the QR board’s chair.
The MP to take up Mr Hinchliffe’s old job is likely to be a member of the right faction, the Labor Forum, which counts Yvette D’Ath, Anthony Lynham, Cameron Dick and Annastacia Palaszczuk among its members.
Member for Ferny Grove Mark Furner, a member of Labor Forum after previously being part of the Old Guard, could be in the running to pick up a ministry.
Mr Furner worked as a union official for almost two decades and was a senator in the Australian Parliament from 2007 to 2013, before winning the seat of Ferny Grove in 2015.
It is understood Mr Furner has strong support within the faction.
Member for Logan Linus Power is another contender, currently serving as senior government whip and a member of the Finance and Administration Committee.
Mr Power, a former teacher, was elected in 2015, holding the seat with a healthy 10.82 margin.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart, currently the Education, Tourism, Innovation and Small Business Committee chair, could be another potential for a tap on the shoulder.
But with youth crime and other issues in Townsville requiring attention, and the demands of a role in the ministry likely to relocate whoever takes the job away from their region, and neighbouring MP Coralee O’Rourke already holding a role in cabinet, Mr Stewart may not be first in line.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad will be acting Transport Minister and Treasurer Curtis Pitt will serve as acting Commonwealth Games Minister.
The last Palaszczuk cabinet reshuffle was in November after embattled member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson resigned as agriculture minister after it was revealed she had not paid almost $8000 in rates and had driven an unregistered vehicle.
On November 11, Member for Morayfield Mark Ryan was elevated to the frontbench as Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister and Corrective Services Minister, with former police minister Bill Byrne hopping back into his old job as Agriculture and Fisheries Minister.
Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard and member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher became assistant ministers.
It took eight days for that reshuffle to be announced after Ms Donaldson told Parliament she would resign as minister, with no indication the Premier will rush to announce Mr Hinchliffe’s replacement.
Parliament resumes in one week, with Brisbane’s train disaster likely to be an easy target for the LNP during question time.
But Ms Trad is well placed to stand as acting Transport Minister, having filled the role from February to December 2015 and past stints as the opposition transport spokeswoman.
A cabinet reshuffle announcement on Friday next week would be strategically smart, as it would fall after the week’s Parliament sittings, and give the new minister a bit longer than a week to get settled before Parliament sits again on February 28.
Gold Coast Tourism chief executive officer Martin Winter said Mr Hinchliffe’s resignation provided a “silver lining” to get the best person for the tourism ministry.
“It makes a lot of sense that the tourism minister is also the person in charge of the Commonwealth Games portfolio,” Mr Winter said.
“Minister Kate Jones recognises that GC2018 represents the best chance in a decade for the tourism industry to positively present Queensland to the world.”
Ms Jones would be unlikely to be in the running to pick up both Transport and Commonwealth Games as she is a member of the Old Guard faction – also known as Labor Unity – rather than Mr Hinchliffe’s faction.
But a reshuffle that resulted in Ms Jones, who is also the Education Minister, scoring Commonwealth Games as well would not be unexpected.
Ms Jones was previously the Commonwealth Games minister from February to December 2015.
Mr Hinchliffe will stay on as Leader of the House and plans to contest the next election in the seat of Sandgate.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.