Queensland has a new Digital Services minister in Bart Mellish, an environmental scientist who served as chief of staff to federal Labor Senator Anthony Chisholm prior to politics.
Mr Mellish, one of five first-time ministers appointed to Premier Steven Miles’ new-look Cabinet, was sworn in as Minister for Digital Services and Minister for Transport and Main Roads on Monday.
He replaces Mark Bailey, who spent more than five years as Transport minister and picked up the Digital Services portfolio in May. Mr Bailey did not feature in the new Cabinet prompted by the shock resignation of former Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week.
Mr Mellish was elected to the electorate of Aspley — which covers the northern Brisbane suburbs of Chermside West, Bridgeman Downs and Bald Hills, among others — in the 2017 state election, having spent his early career working as a policy advisor in government and the private sector.
Prior to entering politics, he also worked as chief of staff to Queensland Senator Anthony Chisholm and as an advisor to former federal Labor Senator Chris Ketter.
But it was in transport and economic policy where he cut his teeth, working at the Department for Transport in the United Kingdom, the Queensland government and the Australasian Railway Association.
In his inaugural speech, Mr Mellish spoke of the commitment of the Labor government to major transport infrastructure in Queensland, as well as the “potentially devastating impact on the workforce of rapid advancements in technology if left unchecked”.
“Due to the increasing speed of telecommunications, increases in computing ability and the growth of computer intelligence, we are currently in the midst of a substantial shift in the way society communicates with itself and how work is organised,” he said.
“Technology is impacting not only the types of jobs we have but on what the very nature of having a job means. I see one of the greatest risks to a fair society from this technological revolution coming from the so-called ‘gig economy’, or basically employment on demand.
“If left to its own devices, massive shifts in how work is allocated and apportioned will result in further wealth concentration and lessening of opportunity—a ‘cheery wave from stranded youngsters’, as it has been described.”
Mr Mellish is joined in the new Cabinet by 18 other ministers, including Leanne Linard, who will continue as Minister for Science and Innovation and Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef.
Having served as Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen since November 2020, Mick de Brenni will take on the new title of Minister for Energy and Clean Economy Jobs. He will lose responsibility for public works, which now falls to Meaghan Scanlon.
Former Assistant Minister for Hydrogen Development and Assistant Minister for Energy Lance McCallum has been appointed Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development.
Glenn Butcher will remain Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water, while Scott Steward will remain Minister for Resources but add responsibility for critical ministers to the title.
A handful of assistant ministers, including Bruce Saunders (Train Manufacturing), Jennifer Howards (Treasury, Trade and Investment) and Shane King (Clean Energy Jobs), have also been appointed.
The Cabinet will meet for the first time on Tuesday.
Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.