Ms.Anna Bligh, 49, re-elected Premier of Queensland, Australia, has gone on to appoint her deputy Paul Lucas as the state's new health minister. It was one of her first tasks on her historic election.
This is the first time ever a woman is elected premier of a state in Australia. Apparently she was anxious to demonstrate she was serious about fixing the state's strained health system.
AdvertisementShe had succeeded Peter Beattie as premier when he resigned in September 2007, and has been duly elected now.
Ms Bligh revealed the key appointment this afternoon in her first media conference since her election victory over the Liberal National Party (LNP) last night.
Mr Lucas, who had responsibility for planning and infrastructure prior to the election, takes over the Health portfolio from Stephen Robertson, whose ministerial future remains unclear under Premier Bligh's new regime.
Mr Robertson faced criticism during the election campaign for failing to adequately fix remote nurses' accommodation.
"Queenslanders want me and my government to do better,'' Ms Bligh told reporters in Brisbane, stressing that health was a key concern for voters.
The Premier said she had appointed her deputy to take on the challenging role because he had the authority, experience and ability to perform.
"His approach will cut through and get things done,'' Ms Bligh said.
Mr Lucas, who this morning inspected progress on the Moreton Island oil spill clean-up with Ms Bligh, dismissed suggestions the health ministry was a poisoned chalice.
He promised to continue work implementing the five-year health action plan. Mr Lucas said he would focus on improving frontline services, tackling waiting times at emergency departments and improving nurses' accommodation.
Health played a prominent role during the state election campaign, with the LNP urging voters to toss out the State Labor Government because it had failed to fix the health system, and the government suffered a swing against it on election night.
Ms Bligh, who refused during the campaign to guarantee Mr Robertson a post-election Cabinet position, today paid tribute to the man who served in the portfolio for four years.
Mr Robertson had worked hard to implement the health action plan, had begun a significant hospital building program and had cut hospital waiting times for elective surgery to the shortest in the nation, she said.
The premier would not reveal if Mr Robertson would be appointed to another portfolio or be sent to backbench.
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