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Annastacia Palaszczuk faces major re-election setback after three government minister quit

Three Queensland government ministers will resign at the state election, in a major setback for Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor’s re-election hopes.

Frontbenchers Kates Jones and Anthony Lynham made shock announcements that they will retire in parliament on Thursday, after fellow MP Coralee O’Rourke made public her decision to resign on the weekend.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander says the high-profile resignations show the government is unstable just seven weeks out from the October 31 election.

‘Wow! Two senior ministers gone in one day… and for what reason? The @AnnastaciaMP Govt is crumbling,’ he tweeted.

The shock resignations come as Ms Palaszczuk faces nationwide criticism for her tough stance on coronavirus border closures that have torn families apart and wreaked havoc on the economy.

Three Queensland Government ministers have announced they would resign before the upcoming election leaving Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) 'crumbling'

Three Queensland Government ministers have announced they would resign before the upcoming election leaving Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) ‘crumbling’

On Thursday, the premier was called out in a very public row with the prime minister, after he pleaded with her to allow a young woman from coronavirus-free Canberra to attend her father’s funeral in Brisbane.

Sarah Caisip, who lives in ACT applied for an exemption last month to visit her sick father Bernard Prendergast – but it took 20 days to get approved and he died of liver cancer two days before her flight.

On Thursday, Ms Caisip, who is six days into her hotel quarantine stint in Brisbane, was banned from attending her father’s funeral because officials believe she is a COVID-19 risk even though the ACT has had no cases for 60 days.

Instead, Ms Caisip was granted a private viewing of her father’s body while in PPE gear, surrounded by security guards and without being allowed to see her shattered mother and 11-year-old sister. 

Scott Morrison had begged the Queensland premier to show some compassion during a radio interview with Ray Hadley on Thursday morning. 

‘It’s not about borders, it’s not about federation, it’s not about elections,’ he told radio 2GB.

Sarah Caisip (pictured), who lives in Canberra, is in hotel quarantine in Brisbane after getting an exemption to enter Queensland to visit her father who was dying of cancer

Sarah Caisip (pictured), who lives in Canberra, is in hotel quarantine in Brisbane after getting an exemption to enter Queensland to visit her father who was dying of cancer

Sarah Caisip (in yellow) was allowed to have a private viewing of her father's body, dressed in PPE gear and with security guards minding her. She was not allowed to greet her family

Sarah Caisip (in yellow) was allowed to have a private viewing of her father’s body, dressed in PPE gear and with security guards minding her. She was not allowed to greet her family

Scott Morrison had pleaded with the QLD Premier to allow Sarah Caisip (in yellow) to attend her father's funeral

Scott Morrison had pleaded with the QLD Premier to allow Sarah Caisip (in yellow) to attend her father’s funeral

‘The only thing that matters today is that Sarah can be with her family to mourn the passing of her father Bernard.

‘This is a heartbreaking case.’

Mr Morrison, who recently lost his own father, said he appealed to the premier to change her mind. 

‘Surely in the midst of all of this heartache, and everything that everyone is going through, surely just this once it can be done,’ he said.

But Ms Palaszczuk hit back and said she refused to be ‘bullied’ into changing her mind. 

She said: ‘I won’t be bullied nor will I be intimidated by the prime minister of this country who contacted me this morning, and who I made very clear to the fact, that this is not my decision. 

‘I passed this onto the chief health officer, and it is the chief health officer’s decision to make.’   

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones (pictured) announced her shock departure on Thursday. She did not give a reason as to why

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones (pictured) announced her shock departure on Thursday. She did not give a reason as to why

The three ministers’ departure is a setback to the election hopes of Labor, who will need to field new candidates in three seats.

State Development, Tourism and Innovation Minister Jones didn’t give a reason for her unexpected decision.

‘All honourable members can appreciate this has been a very difficult decision for me and my family,’ she told parliament.

‘It has been an absolute honour to serve the people of my local community.’

Ms Jones has been one of Ms Palaszczuk’s top lieutenants in parliament and previously held the portfolios of education, environment, small business and the Commonwealth Games.

She was first elected in 2006 in the Brisbane seat of Ashgrove before being ousted by Campbell Newman at the 2012 election.

Ms Jones famously won her seat back from Premier Newman at the next election in 2015, and joined the Palaszczuk cabinet. When electoral boundaries were redrawn in 2017, she became the Member for Cooper.

As the youngest MP elected to parliament and the first Queensland minister to give birth in office, she hoped to inspire future generations of women in politics.

‘I hope I’ve inspired another little girl, who was just like me with big dreams, to believe in herself, back herself, and know that if you set your minds to it you can achieve anything,’ Ms Jones said.

Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Anthony Lynham (pictured) also announced he would not be contesting his seat at the October election

Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Anthony Lynham (pictured) also announced he would not be contesting his seat at the October election

Mines and Natural Resources Minister Dr Lynham – who has held Stafford, one of Labor’s safest seats, since a 2014 by-election – is also an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and admits it had become too hard to juggle his role in politics with his commitments to patients.

‘Six years in limited practice is a long time for a surgeon,’ Dr Lynham told parliament.

‘Virtually my whole adult life I have been a doctor. Since the change in medical registration regulations in 2016, it has been increasingly obvious to me that I cannot give 100 per cent to this very busy job and maintain my medical registration.

‘I had to make a choice. I have achieved what I came here to do. I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to have done that.

‘It is now time to return to my first career to assist where I can, including in the pandemic now upon us.’

The 60-year-old said he was proud of his record of reforming mine safety and health, including introducing measures against lung diseases and accidents.

Coralee O'Rourke, (centre) the MP for the marginal Townsville seat of Mundingburra, resigned on Sunday saying she needed to put her health first after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018

Coralee O’Rourke, (centre) the MP for the marginal Townsville seat of Mundingburra, resigned on Sunday saying she needed to put her health first after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018

Ms O’Rourke, the MP for the marginal Townsville seat of Mundingburra, resigned on Sunday saying she needed to put her health first after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.

The minister, who also held the communities and seniors portfolios, said she was proud of establishing the Townsville Women’s Centre and The Oasis Townsville for ex-ADF members.

Labor holds Stafford by a margin of 12.1 per cent, Cooper by 10.65 per cent and Mundingburra by just 1.13 per cent.

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