Taxpayers hit with $250k bill for Premier’s growing team
Taxpayers will cough up a quarter of a million dollars to pay for extra assistant ministers in the State Labor Government after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk decided to expand her team.
Member for Cairns Michael Healey, Member for Aspley Bart Mellish, Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders, Member for Jordan Charis Mullen and Member for Bundamba Lance McCallum were promoted to the outer ministry today.
Their appointments bring the assistant ministry to eight, up from five last term, and mean half of the 52-person caucus now has a position in the ministry.
Assistant ministers earn $243,400 a year, $84,000 above a standard backbencher's pay, and the expanded team will cost an extra $252,000.
The new appointments join former assistant ministers Nikki Boyd, Brittany Lauga and Julieanne Gilbert.
Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard, who was an assistant minister last term, has been demoted back to the backbench.
Mr Mellish will assist the Premier on veterans' affairs, trade and the COVID-19 economic recovery.
Mr Saunders has been appointed Assistant Minister for Train Manufacturing and Regional Roads
Mr Healey will assist on tourism development Mr McCallum for hydrogen development and the 50 per cent renewable energy target.
Ms Mullen has been appointed Assistant Minister for Treasury Assistant.
Ms Gilbert is Assistant Minister for Health Infrastructure and Ms Lauga remains Assistant Minister for Education.
Mr Healy, who was called out during the election campaign for saying that parents who had only had children to collect the Howard Government's Baby Bonus had contributed to north Queensland's crime problems, hasn't yet been sworn in because his seat has not yet been officially called by the Electoral Commission of Queensland.
Ms Palaszczuk defended increasing the number of assistant ministers because she has "a big job to do" in the COVID-19 recovery and making sure "regions are well-represented".
She said in achieving that, Lance McCallum would work on hydrogen development, Bruce Saunders on train manufacturing and Bart Mellish who will assist the Premier "not just on veterans and COVID economy recovery", and Michael Healy who will assist on tourism recovery.
"This is a big signal as well to regional Queensland that we are here and looking after you every step of the way," she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said it was important for hydrogen to be established as a new portfolio because of the economic prospects it holds for the state.
"Hydrogen has the potential to be the next LNG industry for Queensland, the potential for thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of investment, and as trade minister my conversations with countries overseas has already been about establishing a hydrogen market here in Queensland, exporting to south east Asia and other parts of the world," she said.
She said it was the intention that Curtis Pitt would remain as the speaker of state parliament but that would be endorsed at the next caucus meeting.
When asked if there would be a cap now and no more additional assistant ministers, Ms Palaszczuk confirmed "that was it".
The announcements were made as Ms Palaszczuk and her Cabinet were sworn in at Government House today, with a reception following.
Originally published as Taxpayers hit with $250k bill to cover Premier's growing team