After a successful party state conference last weekend, Queensland Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson has provided Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with another minor headache today: another cabinet reshuffle.
The rookie Left faction-aligned Bundaberg MP was forced to resign after it became public on Thursday that Bundaberg Regional Council was on the brink of commencing the forced sale of her home to recoup three years’ worth of rates (she owed $8000).
Queensland Labor stepped in to prevent this and loaned her the money to pay her bills.
Donaldson has been on $152,000 a year since early 2015 and ministerial pay of $231,000 a year since December 2015.
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The Premier and Deputy Premier made it very clear to her that they expected better from ministers in their cabinet.
Inexplicably, it came to light later that day that she had also not paid her vehicle registration on time and had driven her car unregistered.
Clearly, that made her position in the Queensland cabinet untenable, and she resigned before she could be pushed.
Her cabinet appointment in December 2015, which was a shock to insiders, stemmed from her factional ties with the Left and the CFMEU, her gender and her regional electorate.
There is also pressure for Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe to be sacked over the ongoing Queensland Rail staffing and timetable debacles.
He should survive given his clout in the party — and a key report from earlier this year suggested that Queensland Rail had not told him of its timetabling and staffing issues, as he would rightly have expected.
It will be a minimal reshuffle with the rest of the cabinet still backed by their factions.
The Left faction’s Mark Ryan, who is currently the Assistant Minister of State Assisting the Premier, is most likely to be elevated into cabinet as one of the few Labor MPs with experience in parliament before the election of the government.
If that happens Police Minister Bill Byrne or Disability Services Minister Coralee O’Rourke are most vulnerable to being moved into Agriculture, to allow for Mark Ryan’s promotion, given their closer connection to north and central Queensland.
It is hard to say who of these two will be shifted, but given the recent instability in the Police portfolio under previous minister Jo-Ann Miller it would be a big call to make a change again.
The United Voice-aligned North Queensland Left-faction MPs Aaron Harper and Craig Crawford will also be in the mix for consideration to replace Leanne Donaldson.
They would be able to fill the role of Agriculture without the need for any minister to be moved.
Things may be further complicated by the fact the Palaszczuk has made a point of ensuring women are well represented in cabinet.
She may not want to replace a woman with a man in cabinet.
AMWU-backed Keppel MP Brittany Lauga might be a solution in that case, but, at 30, she is most likely considered too young and inexperienced at this stage.
The Premier has had a few hiccups, but her government remains popular, and she has shown herself to be adept at handling crises.