With the result of the Queensland state election officially called on Friday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has made the first announcements of her new cabinet ahead of its official swearing in tomorrow.
One big appointment of note is that of Kate Jones as Minister for Innovation, taking over in the role from Leeanne Enoch. As well as taking on the Innovation portfolio, Jones will also serve as Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Minister for the Commonwealth Games, and will also oversee International Education.
With this portfolio, Jones will join a four-person economic team of senior Ministers, led by Palaszczuk, that will be tasked with driving jobs growth across the state.
Palaszczuk will take on the Trade portfolio while Deputy Premier Jackie Trad will be appointed Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.
To round out the team, Cameron Dick will be named Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, and Minister for Manufacturing, and will also oversee Economic Development Queensland and the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
The elevating of the Innovation portfolio to senior cabinet comes as Palaszczuk credited the tech space for contributing to jobs growth in the state.
“Key drivers in our jobs’ record have been record exports and tourism, turnarounds for major industries like resources and agriculture, and the development of new industries including large-scale renewables, bio-futures and becoming a major launch pad and drawcard for startups,” she said.
The state’s innovation efforts have been pushed through its Advance Queensland agenda, which has received $420 million in funding to implement a host of programs and initiatives across four years.
Among the key projects funded through Advance Queensland include Brisbane tech hub The Precinct, the Myriad festival, the Ignite Ideas grants program, the Industry Attraction Fund, and the Hot DesQ initiative, which awards interstate and international startups funding to relocate to Queensland for several months.
The government also last year created the position of ‘Chief Entrepreneur’ through Advance Queensland to push the startup message across the state. Steve Baxter earlier this year took over from Mark Sowerby, founder of Blue Sky Alternative Investments, in the role.
Advance Queensland is set to grow further, with Palaszczuk having promised during the election campaign that, if re-elected, the government would put a further $93 million in funding towards the program.
Among the initiatives to receive a piece of the $93 million pie include Deadly Innovation, a program aiming to create more pathways for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs, a grant program to allow female innovators and researchers to “remain connected to their industries and maintain their career momentum” while taking family leave, and the Industry Attraction Fund, which will receive a further $20 million in funding.
“Advance Queensland is Labor’s strategic, long-term investment in Queensland’s future. The new funding will help us increase momentum during our second term and ensure workers and businesses in our state are given every opportunity to succeed,” Enoch said during the election.
Enoch yesterday tweeted her support for Jones as she readies to pass on the portfolio, saying she was “happy to see Advance Queensland elevated in the cabinet”.
— Leeanne Enoch MP (@LeeanneEnoch) December 10, 2017
Image: Kate Jones and Annastacia Palaszczuk. Source: Twitter.