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Poll shock as two more Palaszczuk government ministers announce their pending retirement

Politics

Senior Cabinet ministers Kate Jones and Anthony Lynham today joined fellow frontbencher Coralee O’Rourke in deciding not to contest the state election on October 31.

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Lynham, Labor’s two-term member for Stafford, told parliament he could not continue to represent his constituents “100 per cent” while trying to maintain his registration as a maxillofacial surgeon.

“The people of Stafford, and indeed Queensland, deserve 100 per cent,” Lynham said, opting to instead focus on his medical career.

Like O’Rourke, the Member for Mundingburra, Minister Lynham had denied retirement rumours and speculation of factional ructions in the days leading up to the announcement.

State Development, Tourism and Innovation Minister Kate Jones kept her plans secret until she confirmed her pending retirement this afternoon.

First elected in 2006, Jones lost her seat of Ashgrove to incoming LNP premier Campbell Newman in 2012, only to defeat him in 2015 as Labor returned to power. She advised Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of her intentions last night.

“This has been a very difficult decision for me and my family,” Jones told parliament, using her valedictory speech to again champion Labor values and the need to level the playing field for women.

Lynham and Jones chose to confirm their intentions on the last sitting day of parliament, already a raucous affair due to the debate over border restrictions and budget management during the pandemic.

Deputy Opposition leader Tim Mander later declared the government was “crumbling”.

Jones, who holds the record of the youngest minister to be appointed in Queensland, has been part of the core leadership team and played a crucial role in the government’s response to the recession.

Lynham may have one last portfolio matter to deal with. Last week, the Minister received the interim report from the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry, and has asked for advice on what information about safety issues he can release, and act on, without jeopardising “any potential future prosecutions”.

If Labor is re-elected, Palaszczuk would have to undertake her second Cabinet reshuffle in six months, after long-time deputy premier Jackie Trad stepped down in May.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington led the attack on the Government in question time today, criticising the apparent contradictions in border exemption policies. Palaszczuk again accused the LNP of politicising sensitive issues.

The LNP, in turn, copped an unanticipated barrage of complaints and allegations from former member Jason Costigan, who was disendorsed over his dealings with people. Costigan may not hold the seat of Whitsunday on his own.

Speaker Curtis Pitt is also considering a last-ditch effort from the LNP to force more scrutiny on the Government. Frontbencher Tim Nicholls said the appropriation bills introduced after Treasurer Cameron Dick’s budget update this week were unconstitutional as they were not sent off for committee scrutiny.

Dick, who has offered himself up for a short period of committee scrutiny tomorrow, told parliament he had acted in accordance with the constitution. He said he had advice that the bills were not for a full budget period and therefore did not require a referral to committee.

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