[singlepic id=314 w=320 h=240 float=left]Premier Anna Bligh has ensured the Cairns region will have an even stronger voice in her government.

Ms Bligh will welcome Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, into the Cabinet as Minister for Disabilities, Mental Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

Mr Pitt is one of three new Ministers who will be sworn in at Government House in Brisbane tomorrow.

Additionally, the Member for Barron River, Steve Wettenhall, will be promoted to become Parliamentary Secretary, Assisting the Premier on Economic Development in the Far North, with responsibility for oversighting The Cairns Economic Plan.

“These appointments recognise that at the time Cairns and the Far Northern region were battered by Tropical Cyclone Yasi, the area had already suffered through the blow of the Global Financial Crisis,” Ms Bligh said.

“We need to recognise that the Far North has copped it twice and get on with the job of helping the region recover as well as rebuild.

“I’ve asked Curtis to step up into Cabinet, so he can provide a strong regional voice as we rebuild in the wake of recent natural disasters and also to help us continue the job of governing.

“2011 is a rebuilding year and I want the benefit of Curtis’ knowledge, advocacy and energy as we work through the biggest reconstruction task our State has faced.

“I also believe he is the best person for this portfolio which delivers services that are important to many Queenslanders.”

Mr Pitt said he was honoured to be given the chance to represent his constituents at the Cabinet table.

“When I entered Parliament, I pledged to be a strong advocate for the Far North. I’m very pleased that I have now the opportunity to be an advocate for the region and our people in the Cabinet,” Mr Pitt said.

“This is particularly the case as the Far North begins the job of rebuilding – repairing lives, livelihoods and communities torn apart by the recent cyclones.”

Ms Bligh said Mr Wettenhall would be responsible for ensuring Cairns and the surrounding region would come through the aftermath of Yasi as quickly as possible – including rebuilding the public infrastructure hardest hit.

“I’ve asked Steve to step up and take responsibility for ensuring the implementation of The Cairns Economic Plan, working directly to me,” she said.

“Steve has always vigorously represented the interests of the Far North, and he now has an even greater opportunity to contribute to the development of the region.”

Mr Wettenhall said he would expand the connections he developed in his previous role as Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, to work with the wider business community to drive The Cairns Economic Plan.

“As one of the most important industries in the regional economy, tourism will continue to be a strong focus of my work,” he said.

“I will also ensure that local workers and businesses, which were hit particularly hard during the global financial crisis, get a fair share of the work that will flow from the reconstruction effort.

“Throughout, I will be looking for opportunities to diversify the economy of Cairns and the region.”

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