LONE VOICE: Mundingburra MP Coralee O'Rourke is the only Labor Cabinet Minister not based in the Southeast.
LONE VOICE: Mundingburra MP Coralee O'Rourke is the only Labor Cabinet Minister not based in the Southeast. Bev Lacey

Regions are tired of the lack of real representation

I'M NOT a commentator but...

Now that the dust has settled and the people of Queensland now know who will be governing us for the next two years and 10 months (and won't that time seem to go fast), perhaps it's pertinent an exercise to examine how well the two main parties have gone with listening to us, by examining how the new Government and Opposition frontbenches look.

Are they representative of the whole state or have we ended up yet again with power centred around Southeast Queensland?

One of the main lessons our new Parliament had to learn from the extraordinarily woeful primary votes recorded by the two main parties, was that the people in that part of Queensland lying outside the Sunshine/Gold Coast-Brisbane belt are over being overlooked.

They are tired of being disregarded when it comes to slicing up the state's economic pie.

They are tired of the lack of real representation.

Of course, from a per capita viewpoint one would expect the majority of the funding to flow to where the majority of the people live.

However, this state's wealth is derived from the regions.

And we deserve therefore to have regional Queensland fairly represented at the decision-making table.

The Premier has announced her new Cabinet line-up and what became immediately obvious is that there is an extreme bias towards Labor MPs from in and around Brisbane.

Ms Palaszczuk attempted to cloak what can only be described as a snub to regional Queensland by claiming that her five new Assistant Ministers will strengthen the delivery to regional Queensland.

She has apparently also told her Cabinet to consult more with regional communities and to increase their number of visits.

However, first appearance speak volumes.

Of her much-lauded new Assistant Ministers, two of them are from the Southeast.

Of the Cabinet of 18 (including the Premier), 17 are from the Southeast.

Only one Minister (Coralee O'Rourke) is from regional Queensland; holding a Townsville seat.

And she only managed to secure one of the most-often disregarded portfolios: Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.

All the major economic portfolios have been given to Brisbane-based members.

For all the rhetoric about listening to the regions etc. etc. etc., actions speak louder than words and if the make-up of the new ALP Cabinet is anything to go by, it's all just words.

Some might point to the numbers as a defence for the Premier.

Granted, thirty-six of Labor's forty-eight seats are located in the Southeast and they hold none west of Ipswich.

But surely, if the Premier wishes to be sincere in taking onboard the message sent by Queensland voters from outside of greater Brisbane, then an allocation of ministries based on both merit and proportional representation should have delivered a quarter of Cabinet portfolios to regional Labor members.

Not just one.

Only the next 34 months will show whether or not the State Government is actually going to listen to regional Queensland and whether or not a Cabinet so full of city slickers actually understand how the rest of the state ticks.

And so, the focus now turns to the reset LNP under the stewardship of the Member for Nanango.

If the LNP are to more effectively combat One Nation (and not just leave it to Katter Australia to fight for the hearts and minds of us rural folk), they'll need to ensure the talent of the regions hold greater representation in the Shadow Cabinet ranks this time around.

Gympie Times


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