Premier caught out as MP confirms worst kept secret


IT'S never a good look when a minister quits Parliament in the months before an election, let alone one in a marginal seat.

But it's worse when a leader appears clueless about what's occurring in their own Cabinet.

Coralee O'Rourke has confirmed Townsville's worst kept secret - she's quitting her seat of Mundingburra after two uninspiring terms as Queensland's disabilities minister.

O'Rourke has revealed how recent surgery in her battle against breast cancer made her reassess her priorities.

Good on her.

Yet a week back, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was clearly peeved at being asked questions about her minister's future and outright dismissed suggestions O'Rourke could walk away.

And Palaszczuk's brief statement yesterday acknowledging O'Rourke's decision was anything but effusive.

Disabilities Minister Coralee O'Rourke. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Disabilities Minister Coralee O'Rourke. Picture: Alix Sweeney

The Premier mustered just 41 words for her retiring minister while she managed 260 words when Rockhampton's Bill Byrne quit for health reasons.

There's no mention of a single achievement by O'Rourke in her role as a minister or a local MP while Byrne's former career, Cabinet efforts and newborn grandson all got a gong when he quit just before the 2017 poll.

There's no specific mention of O'Rourke's fight against cancer either.

It indicates that the Premier isn't impressed at her minister's departure and betrays Labor's concerns over what it might mean for the Government's quest for a third term.

Mundingburra has been a bellwether seat for the past 10 elections.

It has been held by whoever ruled Queensland ever since it was recreated in 1992.

O'Rourke beat high-profile Newman government minister David Crisafulli in 2015, forcing him to find more fertile political territory on the Gold Coast.

But she holds it now by just 1.1 per cent after scrapping home in 2017.

If Labor starts losing regional Queensland seats like Mundingburra, there might not be a Palaszczuk 3.0.

Little wonder the Premier didn't care for this issue.

Originally published as Premier caught out as MP confirms worst kept secret