Greens upset at Slack role

by Chris Griffith
Published 25 February 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


The Borbidge government's decision not to appoint shadow environment spokesman Doug Slack as environment minister was met with disappointment yesterday by former Queensland Greens' convenor Drew Hutton.

Together Mr Hutton and Mr Slack forged an historic dialogue before last year's July 15 poll which saw Mr Hutton suggest, for the first time, that green candidates could direct preferences to the coalition.

It was a strategy that contributed to Labor's loss in the north Queensland seat of Mulgrave held by Warren Pitt. The ALP also lost Mt Ommaney and Albert where green preferences were not directed to either major party.

Mr Slack today is expected to be handed the economic and trade development portfolio.

Mr Slack yesterday declined to comment on his expected portfolio shift. "It is difficult for me to comment because the portfolios have not been allocated," he said.

Mr Hutton said Mr Slack had made it possible for the coalition to improve its environmental credentials and be worthy of green support.

But he dismissed a concern that Mr Slack had lost the portfolio because his coalition colleagues believed he was too close to environmentalists.

"I don't think that's the reason," he said. "I've spoken to Rob Borbidge and indicated that we were unhappy about Doug not being in the portfolio and I've spoken to Doug himself.

"Both insisted that it was only with great reluctance that he was withdrawn.

"Rob Borbidge told me Doug Slack was being chosen to give the development portfolio a strong environmental element."

Mr Hutton said the coalition's expected choice of Brian Littleproud as environment minister was "the next best thing". Mr Littleproud was education minister in the Ahern government from 1987 to 1989 and recently was the coalition's emergency services spokesman.

Mr Hutton said he knew Mr Littleproud personally. Both had grown up in Chinchilla and both had been keen tennis players in the district.

"He's a very approachable sort of guy, but he will need to do what Doug has done and talk to all the groups.

"He must have an open door policy on the environment, and he must see his role as taking the environment agenda into cabinet and getting wins.

"I would be feeling much more betrayed if the portfolio had gone to an obvious redneck."