The Palaszczuk Government has doubled-down on its first-term focus on the tech startup and innovation sectors with the appointment of Kate Jones as Innovation Minister, effectively promoting the portfolio into its elite four-minister economic leadership team.
This move by the Palaszczuk government can only be good news for the state’s local startup sector, which was promised an additional $93 million boost under Advance Queensland initiative.
It indicates that the state government recognises the Innovation portfolio is more important than it first thought. By handing Innovation to risings star Ms Jones, the Premier has acknowledged the potential international benefits that could come out of bringing the portfolio to the forefront of its economic discussions.
Innovation will be complimentary to Ms Jones’ other portfolios – Commonwealth Games, Tourism Industry Development, and International Education – all of which are fundamentally focused on attracting international capital and relationships.
Ms Jones will join Queensland’s very own kitchen cabinet that will be responsible for making budget and strategic decisions on how to grow the economy.
Other members of the economic team include:
- Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who has added Trader to her own responsibilities;
- Deputy Premier Jackie Trad will be appointed Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships; and
- Cameron Dick will be appointed Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning and Minister for Manufacturing, with responsibility for Economic Development Queensland and Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
“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 start-ups,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“We are making the investments in our roads, ports and other key infrastructure to strengthen the channels for exports and tourists. We are investing in new industries and breaking new ground through Advance Queensland initiatives.”
“These investments are paying dividends in new jobs and new opportunities for Queenslanders.”
While the appointment of Ms Jones to Innovation means Leanne Enoch will no longer have the portfolio, Ms Enoch should be recognised for launching Advance Queensland, the foundation of what has underpinned Queensland’s innovation position to date.
In a tweet, Ms Enoch wrote: “Congratulations to @katejonesqld our new #Innovation minister. Proud of the work we’ve done so far and happy to see @AdvanceQld elevated in the cabinet.”
In acknowledging Ms Enoch for her efforts, StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley said he also looks forward to working with Ms Jones.
“Leanne Enoch has been one of the most passionate and energetic supporters of startups anywhere in the country over the last few years. She did a great job as Innovation Minister and Queensland’s startup ecosystem has gone from strength to strength recently,” he said.
“I’m confident Kate Jones can continue to build on those strengths, and StartupAUS welcomes her appointment. I’m looking forward very much to building the relationship and working closely with her in the period ahead.”
RedEye CEO and co-founder also commended Ms Enoch for work over the years, describing her as a “fantastic innovation minister.”
“She’s going to leave a legacy in Queensland for the unbelievable work she has done for the whole startup community in state. It is a real shame to see her go,” he said.
Mr Gerard believes Ms Jones will be equally capable in the new role, given she’s “incredibly hardworking and very smart.”
“I’m sure she’s going to bring a large amount of energy as the new Innovation Minister. There is also lots of synergy with her previous portfolio,” he said.
“With the Queensland government having such an economic focus, it really shows just how important innovation and new digital job growth is, so we expect Ms Jones and Labor to continue to invest heavily in Queensland.”
He added there’s now an opportunity for the new minister to pitch Queensland as a soundboard for the federal government to help drive the same success nationally, as well as into other sectors.
“It’s a real opportunity to integrate innovation into the other departments and portfolios. Having innovation as part of the executive cabinet will let us see it appear in where it’s more needed such as in health, education, public housing, and energy and environment.”