Calls for next tourism minister to come from FNQ
PRESSURE is on the next Queensland government to ensure the new tourism minister comes from the Far North.
Incumbent Minister Kate Jones announced her intention to quit state parliament on Thursday, the third Labor Cabinet member in a week following Energy Minister Anthony Lynham and Disabilities Minister Coralee O'Rourke.
The news came as a shock to prominent figures in the region's tourism industry but they want her replacement to come from the ranks of the Far North's MPs with Cairns MP Michael Healy being singled out.
Tourism and Events Queensland board member and Down Under Tours managing director James Dixon said she would be a tough act to follow.
"She has worked very hard and with her achievements has managed to secure guaranteed funding for TEQ to market the state," he said.
Mr Dixon said he would love to see the role filled by Mr Healy.
"There would not be a better qualified person to take on that ministry," he said.
"He's come from the industry, he knows distribution, every facet of what our industry needs."
Advance Cairns' executive chairman Nick Trompf said while Mr Healy was well-qualified, it would depend on the outcome of the election.
"There's no doubt we'd love to have a handful of ministers in the region, but if you had to pick tourism would be one of the first portfolios you'd want held by a local," he said.
"But as a Minister you have to represent the whole state. We don't have to delude ourselves to think we'd get special treatment, but at least we know we wouldn't be forgotten."
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said a Far North-based Minister would help dissuade favouritism towards southeast Queensland.
"Regional Queensland has always been poorly represented from state to federal," he said.
"We'll let them sort out the problems first, but it would be ideal for us to have a tourism Minister from here … to make sure Cairns is treated fairly."
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive Mark Olsen said the industry was shocked to hear Ms Jones was standing down.
"Kate Jones earnt great respect from the tourism industry as a Minister who knew how to listen to the people and get to the heart of an issue," he said.
"We wish her well in her future endeavours and look forward to working with the next tourism Minister."
Mr Healy said he would remain a strong advocate for tourism in the Far North, but ultimately the decision would be up to the Premier.
"I'll have to win my seat, we've got to win government, and I'll be in for a tough fight, so one step at a time," he said.
"I think Kate Jones has made a fantastic contribution as a public servant … she's been a very sound tourism Minister and very accessible to key players in the industry."
Mr Healy said whoever ended up in the role would need to be ready for when interstate borders reopen.
"When the appropriate time comes, I think we need to have strong aviation connections," he said.
Originally published as Calls for next tourism minister to come from FNQ