PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended her commitment to the North after coming under fire for dumping the position of Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland from her ministry.
The position was created after the Palasczuk Government’s shock win at the 2015 election with Mundingburra MP Coralee O’Rourke allocated the role.
But the position was notably dumped following the Palaszczuk Governments reelection at the November 25 poll.
Ms O’Rourke retains a position in cabinet after again being named Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors.
While Ms Palaszczuk’s office has refused to say why the North Queensland position was scrapped, a spokesman from her office said Labor was committed to the North.
“Coralee O’Rourke’s strong advocacy for the Townsville region and North Queensland was acknowledged with her re-election as the Member for Mundingburra and her appointment of Cabinet,” he said.
“Minister O’Rourke will be a strong voice for the north in State Cabinet.
“In addition, Member for Barron River (north of Cairns) Craig Crawford has been appointed to Cabinet.”
The spokesman said Labor had the strongest representation in the North of any party, from the Torres Strait (in Cook electorate) to Barron River, Cairns, Mulgrave, Townsville, Thuringowa and Mundingburra and Mackay as well as Rockhampton and Keppel near the Tropic of Capricorn.
He said the Premier had a wealth of talent to select from when announcing her cabinet, and has congratulated Scott Stewart (Townsville) and Aaron Harper (Thuringowa) on their recent re-elections.
“Both are very hard working and key members of the Government,” the spokesman said.
“When they speak, Ministers listen.”
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington this week flew to Townsville to outline what she says was her commitment to the North by announcing her Shadow Minister for North Queensland, Burdekin MP Dale Last.
She questioned Labor’s rationale in dumping the role.
”Disturbingly for the people of Townsville, we’ve seen Annastacia Palaszczuk not even appoint a minister for North Queensland,” Ms Frecklington said on Tuesday.
“The LNP are proud of North Queensland and proud of the representation we have here.”