Slap down: Union boss tells Premier she doesn’t choose Cabinet
Annastacia Palaszczuk's public decree that she won't include Jackie Trad in Cabinet has sparked an internal brawl, with an influential Labor powerbroker declaring the Premier doesn't have the power.
Party insiders were yesterday left cheering or jeering after the Premier announced that her former deputy "will not be returning to Cabinet" after leaving the door open to a ministerial resurrection the previous day if Labor wins the election.
Ms Palaszczuk's pronouncement came after Ms Trad insisted that she was "not seeking a return to Cabinet" in a Facebook post, despite three vacancies left by retiring ministers.
It's understood Ms Trad's response had been discussed internally ahead of the Premier's press conference as a way to neutralise the issue during the election.
But Ms Palaszczuk's unequivocal public declaration came as a shock to many after months of refusing to directly answer the question she had repeatedly branded as "hypothetical".
ButThe Courier-Mailcan reveal the Premier had been informing colleagues privately for weeks she would not have Ms Trad back in her Cabinet even if she held off the Greens to retain South Brisbane.
"Let me be very clear, she will not be returning to Cabinet if the Labor Government is elected," the Premier told reporters while campaigning in LNP-held Pumicestone on Bribie Island.
"I've made that very clear, she's also communicated that today as well."
Asked who made the decision, Ms Palaszczuk said: "Let me say very clearly she will not be returning to Cabinet."
"I am making it very clear to the people of this state."
The Premier insisted her decision was final regardless of whether Ms Trad was nominated for Cabinet to replace retiring Coralee O'Rourke by powerful Left faction. However, in a dangerous flashpoint for Labor as the election campaign entered its second week, union boss and Left powerbroker Gary 'Blocker' Bullock slapped down Ms Palaszczuk's assertion just hours later.
"The Labor Party has democratic processes that will determine who is in Cabinet, but our focus must be to win the election and see Labor's commitments for massive investment in health and education delivered," the United Workers Union Queensland secretary said.
Under traditional Labor rules, each of the three factions nominates MPs for the ministry based on the proportion of seats they hold. It's understood that Ms Trad's backers are livid over the Premier's comments as Ms Trad battles to win her key seat in what is expected to be a close contest in which the Greens will be buoyed by LNP preferences.
But other Labor insiders celebrated the fact that the government would not need to contend with Ms Trad's electoral unpopularity or divisive leadership style if it won another term.
In a play on Ms Trad's infamous comments around coalminers needing to re-skill, CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said: "Maybe she can do some training and re-skill into civilian life?"
Labor stalwart Robert Schwarten said Ms Palaszczuk's decisive move was the correct one.
"It shows the strength and determination of the Premier to do the right thing," he said.
"She's showed us she's not scared or intimidated by the likes of Scott Morrison on the borders or Jackie Trad and all her antics. Ms Trad has appeared on election signs planted by Labor's opponents across regional Queensland suggesting she would be back if the Palaszczuk government was re-elected.
Ms Trad quit as deputy premier and treasurer in May over a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation into the appointment of the new Inner City South State Secondary College principal.
She was cleared of any wrongdoing.
WHERE THE LEADERS WERE YESTERDAY
Where: Bribie Island Ambulance Station and Bribie Island RSL.
Electorate: Pumicestone, held by outgoing LNP MP Simone Wilson.
What: $265m over four years for community hospitals in seven regions, including Bribie Island, the Redlands, Gold Coast and Ipswich.
Background: The LNP holds Pumicestone by just 0.84 per cent.
Where: Hervey Bay RSL
Electorate: Hervey Bay, held by the LNP's outgoing Ted Sorensen.
What: $300m to fast-track surgeries through a partnership with the private sector to reduce public hospital waiting lists.
Background: The LNP holds Hervey Bay by 9.1 per cent. Steve Coleman was announced as the LNP's candidate after Mr Sorensen announced he was retiring.
Originally published as Slap down: Union boss tells Premier she doesn't choose Cabinet