Former Queensland Labor Minister Quits Party to Run Against MP

Former Queensland Labor Minister Quits Party to Run Against MP
Labor candidate Peter Beattie and local member Margaret Keech (R) pose for a photo with a worker at the Yatala Pie shop at Beenleigh in Brisbane, Australia, on Aug. 14, 2013. (AAP Image/Bradley Kanaris)
Caden Pearson

A former long-serving Labor cabinet minister has come out of retirement to challenge the incumbent Labor MP that she helped get elected in the upcoming Queensland elections.

Margaret Keech, the former women’s and tourism minister in the Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh governments between 2001 and 2012, says the Labor Party now only listens to factional powerbrokers and inner-city Green voters and not the working class.

“Labor’s really lost its way. It’s not the party that focussed on working families,” she told Seven News on Tuesday. “It’s more focussed on inner Brisbane, chasing those Greens preferences, and they really have lost touch.”

She has quit the Labor Party to take on Melissa McMahon as an independent for the seat of Macalister, centred on Beenleigh and Eagleby south of Brisbane, the state’s capital.

Keech wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that she felt the urge to stand again for Queensland Parliament because of an urgent need to change the way her community is represented.

“As an Independent, I will be free to fight for the things which matter to you. My focus will solely be on serving our community, not on a political party,” she wrote.

“Labor in past years, for example with [Former Premier] Peter Beattie, was about listening to the people first, rather than listening to the factions,” Keech said.

Incumbent MP McMahon, who once thanked Keech for election campaign guidance in her maiden speech to Queensland Parliamant in 2018, said she was surprised by Keech’s move.

“A lot of people are upset because she was elected as a Labor MP, she was given a Labor ministry,” she said.

McMahon pointed out that Keech, who is spruiking a self-funded campaign, is living off a substantial ministerial retirement pension.

“Self-funded or publicly-funded?” McMahon rhetorically questioned, before going on to say that Keech receives fairly nice retirement entitlements.

“As a retired member, I believe I can still contribute to my community,” said Keech.

Macalister is a reasonably safe seat with Labor enjoying a margin of 7.4 percent.

The Queensland state election will be held on Oct. 31.