“Peter Beattie has moved to make himself the most powerful premier since Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, taking over the Treasury portfolio in an effort to end the turmoil in the Labor Party,” the Courier Mail screams today. “But his plans for a new cabinet have been undermined by a snub from his own faction, which yesterday rejected his preferred cabinet replacement for former treasurer Terry Mackenroth.”

The Australian reports: “Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has taken responsibility for money and major projects after a six-day cabinet reshuffle that dramatically shifts the balance of power in his Labor Government and exposes its weaknesses ahead of two crucial by-elections. After anointing the Left’s Anna Bligh as his heir apparent, Mr Beattie yesterday unveiled the two ‘super-ministries’ the pair will shoulder until the next state election, due in early 2007…”

The combination of tolerating a disgraced speaker who turned his office into a free bar for mates and an incompetent health minister who employed leech doctors was too much for a media standover man like Beattie – but dragging the reshuffle out over six days looked messy.

Many banana benders believe Mackenroth deliberately waited to pull the plug to make it difficult for Blight to get the treasurer’s job.

And there’s been strife in the premier’s own faction. Labor Unity – the old guard – knocked back his preferred and publicly stated choice for the ministry, long serving and capable parliamentary secretary Neil Roberts and instead installed Pat Purcell.

Beattie is embarrassed, and word is that the brothers are significantly divided over Roberts’s shabby treatment – particularly since this is the second time he has missed a ministry.

Peter Fray

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