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Beattie names new Indigenous Policy Minister

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 3 March 2005

John Mickel is Queensland's new Indigenous Policy Minister.

Mr Mickel has been sworn in at Government House this morning, replacing Liddy Clark, who was forced to resign this week over the Palm Island air fare affair.

Mr Mickell also holds the Energy portfolio and will be assisted in Indigenous policy by a parliamentary secretary, Linda Lavarch.

Premier Peter Beattie has appealed to the Indigenous community to support Mr Mickell.

"We are determined to try and continue to deliver good policy with Indigenous people, and I just ask them to work with us and the new minister," he said.

"I just ask them to give him a bit of a break, because obviously he'll need time to get on top of all these things, but he will work very hard with the communities and I urge them to give him a go."

A Cape York Indigenous leader says he is shocked the Queensland Indigenous Policy portfolio will be handled by the Energy Minister.

The chief executive of the Kowanyama Aboriginal Community, Bob Sands, says the new minister needs to break down the barriers between the Government and Indigenous people.

"What has energy got to do with Indigenous affairs?" he said.

"All they do in our community is provide electricity and that's all, nothing else, I can't understand why the Premier has put us under the Minister for Energy."

Mr Mickel denies the extra responsibility will distract him from his work as Energy Minister.

Mr Beattie says Mr Mickel's work in fixing the energy networks is not finished, so he has also appointed a new parliamentary secretary to help him.

Mr Mickel says he is ready to deal with his new role.

"I welcome the challenge with this, I've never shirked the challenge and I won't be running away from the issues," he said.

"Alcohol abuse and the social problems it causes like domestic violence and the health problems, child abuse are issues which cut a swathe right through any community."

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