Former transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe

In a stunning turn of events that this writer didn’t predict, Mark Furner has been chosen by his Labor Forum faction to replace Stirling Hinchliffe following the former transport minister’s resignation.

Furner, formerly of the small Labor Unity faction, just edged out Linus Power seven votes to five.

His defection to Labor Forum was incredibly stealth. I’d heard nothing about that.

Labor Forum is building for what looks like a forlorn effort to wrestle Queensland Labor control from the Queensland Left in state delegate elections later this year.

I wrote that I expected Jennifer Howard to be chosen as the replacement, but it appears that the already high proportion of female ministers within the Labor Forum grouping and broadly in cabinet more broadly held her back.

The right-wing AWU-controlled Labor Forum has four members of cabinet (if you include the Premier), two of whom are female.

More broadly, half of the Queensland government’s cabinet are female.

Linus Power, a well-connected AWU stalwart and a member of Queensland Labor’s Administrative Committee, was next off the rank in my books, and also according to the bookies.

Yet it is Mark Furner who has catapulted into cabinet as Minister for Local Government and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

It was a minimal reshuffle as expected, with Curtis Pitt losing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and gaining Trade and Investment.

Queensland Left Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has been once again allocated Transport, and the vanquisher of Premier Campbell Newman, Kate Jones, been reallocated the Commonwealth Games portfolio.

Trad lost Local Government.

There are a few interesting dynamics around why Linus Power missed out.

He’s not been a star performer and hasn’t got the strongest public speaking skills.

I, however, would have thought that like normally in these instances loyalty and seniority account for more than raw ability.

It’s a stunning and embarrassing outcome for Linus and a blow to his ambitions.

No doubt it will create internal tensions within Labor Forum.

Labor Forum ministers Yvette D’Ath, Cameron Dick, Jennifer Howard and Duncan Pegg would have supported seniority and backed Linus to ascend to cabinet. They all have a close relationship with him.

It’s been reported that one Labor Forum cabinet minister (who I believe was Anthony Lynham) in order to break a tied decision voted with backbenchers and for Furner.

I assume were there to have been a tie Annastacia Palaszczuk would have exercised a casting vote and would have backed Power into cabinet.

The other issue at play is the marginal nature of Furner’s seat and, obviously, minds have turned to defending the seats most at risk.

They will be hoping his increased profile will boost his chances.

 

Peter Fray

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