Our C-Team: Ministers’ end-of-year report cards
As our year like no other draws to a close, we've rated Queensland's ministers on their performance in 2020.
From the depths of despair, 2020 was the year when the Queensland Labor Government finally got it together - almost, anyway.
That sounds kind of odd, given Queensland was beset by a devastating global pandemic, the state joined the rest of the nation in recession and the Government's most formidable figure, Jackie Trad, resigned amid another integrity scandal.
Yet Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's resolute management of the COVID-19 crisis was endorsed by Queenslanders, and this led to the return of her much-prized popularity which had hit record lows at the end of 2019.
As a result, Labor secured a third term on October 31 with a slightly improved majority, however fending off the challenge of LNP leader Deb Frecklington was far from easy.
Thanks to the sage advice of Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young, Palaszczuk responded to the pandemic quicker than her peers, although inconsistencies with COVID-19 rules were a concern.
Yet the virus also became a contagion across government, a ready excuse to halt efforts in other areas, not that this administration has ever needed a reason to sit on its hands.
Labor ends the year cock-a-hoop with itself.
This month's lacklustre Budget, full of new debt and devoid of new ideas, bodes badly.
With an energetic new opposition leader in David Crisafulli and the pandemic coming to an end, 2021 is going to be a challenge.
The Government is going to have to get on and govern, which it has never been great at.
Annastacia Palaszczuk - Premier, Trade
Went from increasingly unpopular to popular again after playing the COVID pandemic with aplomb. Was rewarded by Queenslanders with a resounding election victory. Challenge will be stay liked and leading as the health crisis morphs into an economic calamity.
Jackie Trad - Treasurer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (defeated)
Another integrity crisis forced Trad to quit as a minister in May and then voters forced her out of her South Brisbane seat in October. Oversaw escalating debt as treasurer, namely to fund her pet project, Cross River Rail. Enormous capacity but flaws finally caught up with her.
Cameron Dick - Treasurer, Infrastructure, Planning (added investment)
Great job raising the profile of manufacturers, as well as his own along the way. Responded quickly with stimulus measures during the COVID crisis. Did well selling the merits of a mediocre budget. Next year's economic challenges will be his critical test.
Kate Jones - State Development, Tourism, Cross River Rail (retired)
Superb retail politician who was adored by stakeholders. Her decision to quit will be a bitter blow for the Palaszczuk Government during its third term. Already been linked to a run for the Brisbane lord mayoralty in 2024.
Yvette D'Ath - Attorney-General (now health)
Diligent and hardworking. Introduced some complex legal reforms. But copybook was severely blotted by a ham-fisted attempt to muzzle free speech during state elections which the Government was embarrassingly forced to withdraw.
Mark Ryan - Police, Corrective Services (added fire, emergency services)
For a clever cookie, Queensland's police minister sure has a talent for making himself look like a dill on occasions. Cack-handed efforts on youth crime and blamed magistrates for bungled Youth Justice Act reforms. Should have been given a different portfolio.
Mark Furner - Agriculture, Fisheries
Came up with his own nickname, Furner the farmer's friend. But that's about it in terms of achievements. His department's Back to Work scheme for fruit picking has been a flop and delayed drought reforms. But does a decent job wearing an Akubra.
Anthony Lynham - Natural Resources, Mines, Energy (retired)
Might not have ever learnt the art of retail politics but Lynham proved to be a very competent administrator of these critical Queensland industries. Safety reforms will better protect mine workers for generations to come. Handling of Paradise Dam issue less than ideal.
Mark Bailey - Transport, Main Roads
If management of a ministry was judged on tweets, Bailey would be an 'A' student. It can't be, of course. However, when he's off Twitter, Bailey does to a respectable job. Less politics and more long-term plans for roads and public transport needed.
Steven Miles - Health, Ambulance Services (Now deputy premier, state development)
From inane efforts changing a hospital name to excelling during the coronavirus pandemic, Miles has rapidly improved. Health was once the poison chalice portfolio but his calm approach during the crisis has him marked as a future Labor leader.
Grace Grace - Education, Industrial Relations (added racing)
Classroom airconditioning rollout was policy on the run. It may become a scandal. Principal appointment controversy that brought down Trad happened under the minister's nose. Inflated claims about holding a "Master's Level" degree didn't help her cause.
Coralee O'Rourke - Communities, Disabilities (retired)
One of O'Rourke's final contributions before her retirement was the naming of a new road in her hometown of Townsville. It says much about her ministerial career in a portfolio that barely existed by the end given Queensland's transition to the NDIS.
Leanne Enoch - Environment, Arts (now communities, housing, arts)
Good job introducing recycling scheme and banning single use plastics. But done little to ensure Labor met its commitment towards more national parks. Never recovered from last year's Adani approval debacle but has a fresh start in a new portfolio.
Shannon Fentiman - Employment, Training, Small Business (now Attorney-General)
Made a decent fist of the dud portfolio she was handed by Palaszczuk. Worked hard to establish relations with the training and business sectors. Shirked necessary TAFE reforms but introduced free apprenticeships. Has earned her promotion.
Mick de Brenni - Housing, Public Works, Sport (now public works, energy, hydrogen)
The mind boggles how de Brenni earnt a promotion to the complex energy portfolio. Queensland Building and Construction Commission was at risk of becoming a basket case and de Brenni was lambasted by the Auditor General for fiddling around with sport grants.
Stirling Hinchliffe - Local Government, Racing (now tourism, innovation, sport)
The minister who once sacked himself has been caught out by a controversy over a mayor who sacked herself. Rockhampton mayor Marg Strelow's dummy spit has exposed the folly of last-minute reforms handing mayoralties to second-place getters.
Craig Crawford - Fire, Emergency Services (now seniors, disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships)
Appointing a minister for fire trucks now seems prophetic after the disastrous 2019 bushfire season. Oversaw a massive increase in mitigation activities. But there are questions over the much-hyped water bomber brought to Queensland given it was inactive during the Fraser Island fire.
Di Farmer - Child Safety (now employment, training)
Failed to do anything about officers who were derelict in their duties before the death of Mason Lee. Reluctantly accepted adoption as an option for some of the 10,000 kids living in out-of-home care. Kept her head down while the department needed a reformer.
Glen Butcher - Regional development, manufacturing (added water)
Got promoted at the expense of the person who recruited him to the Left faction, Jackie Trad. Trying hard but struggling for relevance given senior ministers are battling it out over who should get to make trendy manufacturing announcements.
Originally published as Our C-Team: Ministers' end-of-year report cards