Can Newman do anything for us?
WITH three south west Queensland casualties in the wake of the Campbell Newman takeover, if his new shadow cabinet is anything to go by, voters in the LNP stronghold may well be thinking Campbell can't, or won't, do it for the Southern Downs.
Following former Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Southern Downs MP Lawrence Springborg's resignation, Warrego Member Howard Hobbs and Condamine Member Ray Hopper have been turfed out of the reshuffled shadow cabinet.
With an increasing emphasis on urban and coastal Queensland, Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham said he was disappointed and concerned the region was without representation.
“This is a significant conservative stronghold,” Cr Bellingham said.
“Lawrence Springborg was the leader in putting together the National party and Liberal party – frankly, as far as I'm concerned, he deserves great kudos for providing that leadership.
“It's certainly of concern that we do not have representation on this interim shadow cabinet. I'm sure as time goes on that will have to be addressed.”
A prompt press release from the new Shadow Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Planning and Reconstruction Jeff Seeney said the party would fast-track a regional plan to protect quality agricultural land from development on the Darling Downs.
When the Daily News questioned a Campbell Newman spokeswoman on why the Southern Downs was neglected in the reshuffle, she used Mr Seeney's press release to say: “This clearly shows that the Downs have not been forgotten”.
Mr Newman said the reshuffle was about renewal, a new leadership and a new energy.
“I am committed to taking this state forward and have put the right people in the right slots to deliver for every Queenslander,” Mr Newman said.
“The new shadow ministry actually bolsters our commitment to rural and regional Queensland, with a Shadow Minister focussing on rural and regional areas supported by Shadow Parliamentary Secretaries in the North and West.”
Five former LNP shadow ministers were dumped in Campbell Newman's reshuffle: Howard Hobbs, Ray Hopper, Ray Stevens, Glen Elmes and Peter Dowling were ejected.
Mr Springborg, who on resigning as Deputy Leader was openly critical of the process the LNP followed in allowing Mr Newman to take the leadership, yesterday told the Daily News while it was “surprising” there was no representation from this part of the state, he hadn't expected to receive a phone call offering him a position.
“No one should be surprised I'm not a part of the shadow cabinet,” Mr Springborg said.
“When I stood aside from the position of Deputy Leader, I was asked in the media whether I would seek a shadow ministry.
“I said it wasn't my intention and I didn't expect, nor receive, a call from Campbell.”
Mr Springborg said it was up to Mr Newman and Mr Seeney to demonstrate how the Southern Downs would not be disadvantaged in having no representation on the frontbench.
He said he would focus on representing the Southern Downs and it would be “up to the region to decide” whether he could be as effective as a representative without a shadow ministry.
“I will continue to pursue the demise of a long-term, toxic government,” Mr Springborg said.
“If we change the government, people in our area will benefit from the collective change for the good.”
The LNP promised to fast-track a regional plan for the Darling Downs to put planning restrictions in place to protect prime farm land, homes and towns as announced early yesterday by Mr Seeney.
New LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies Andrew Cripps was also fast to issue a press release promising to take Queensland's agricultural sector forward and secure primary industries as part of the state's economic future. Premier Anna Bligh said there would be no early election this year, as it was about “rebuilding Queensland,” with one due next March.
Who are they?
The LNP's new frontbench and their electorates:
- Jeff Seeney – Callide
- Tim Nicholls – Clayfield
- Ros Bates – Mudgeeraba
- Jarrod Bleijie – Kawana
- Andrew Cripps – Hinchinbrook
- Tracy Davis – Aspley
- Jack Dempsey – Bundaberg
- Steve Dickson – Buderim
- Scott Emerson – Indooroopilly
- Bruce Flegg – Moggill
- David Gibson – Gympie
- John-Paul Langbroek – Surfers Paradise
- Ted Malone – Mirani
- Mark McArdle – Caloundra
- Andrew Powell – Glass House
- Mark Robinson – Cleveland
- Fiona Simpson – Maroochydore
- Jann Stuckey – Currumbin