Two More Queensland Ministers to Quit at State Election

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
September 10, 2020Updated: September 10, 2020

Queensland government ministers Kate Jones and Anthony Lynham have become the second and third Labor frontbenchers to announce they won’t contest the state election.

Tourism Minister Jones and Mines and Natural Resources Minister Lynham made their shock announcements during parliament’s final sitting on Sept. 10 before the Oct. 31 election.

They join Disability Services Minister Coralee O’Rourke, who announced at the weekend that she would stand down at the election.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander says the resignation of a two more frontbenchers shows the Labor government is unstable.

“Wow! Two senior ministers gone in one day … and for what reason? The @AnnastaciaMP Govt is crumbling,” he tweeted.

Jones, 41, did not give a clear reason for her decision but said it had been an honour to serve in the government.

“All honourable members can appreciate this has been a very difficult decision for me and my family,” she told parliament.

“It has been an absolute honour to serve the people of my local community.”

Jones has been one of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s top lieutenants in parliament and held the portfolio’s of state development and innovation.

She was first elected in 2006 in the Brisbane seat of Ashgrove before being ousted by Campbell Newman at the 2012 election.

Jones thumped the then Premier Newman at the next election, winning back her seat and joining the Palaszczuk cabinet. When electoral boundaries were redrawn she became the member for Cooper.

She said as the youngest-ever MP elected to state parliament and the first government minister to give birth, she hoped to inspire future generations of women.

“I hope I’ve inspired another little girl, who was just like me with big dreams, to believe in herself, back herself, and know that if you set your minds to it you can achieve anything,” Jones said.

Speaker Curtis Pitt thanked the minister for her service, and she replied: “I thought you were going to warn me,” with the house breaking out in laughter.

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Pitt replied.

Dr Lynham, 60—who has held Stafford, one of Labor’s safest seats, since a 2014 by-election—is also an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and admits it’s too hard to juggle his role in politics with his commitments to patients.

He says he’s proud of his record of reforming mine safety and health, including introducing measures against lung diseases and accidents.

“Six years in limited practice is a long time for a surgeon,” Lynham told parliament.

“Virtually my whole adult life I have been a doctor. Since the change in medical registration regulations in 2016, it has been increasingly obvious to me that I cannot give 100 percent to this very busy job and maintain my medical registration.

“I had to make a choice. I have achieved what I came here to do. I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to have done that.

“It is now time to return to my first career to assist where I can, including in the pandemic now upon us.”

O’Rourke, the MP for the marginal Townsville seat of Mundingburra, resigned on Sept. 6 saying she needed to put her health first after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.

The minister, who also held the communities and seniors portfolios, said she was proud of establishing the Townsville Women’s Centre and The Oasis Townsville for ex-ADF members.