John Mickel discusses his childhood and educational background. He was born in Murgon but grew up in Ipswich and Brisbane. He attended a number of Catholic schools. He discusses the lack of funding for the Catholic education system. He completed a BA at the University of Queensland while undertaking teacher training at the Mt Gravatt Teachers' College. He continued his studies at the University of Queensland and completed a Masters degree in politics.
|Catholic schools, University of Queensland|
John Mickel states that his interest in politics was sparked during his time at the University of Queensland. He highlights the importance of the Vietnam War and the Whitlam government's decision to provide State support for Catholic schools in shaping his political views. He discusses his commitment to Catholic social justice.
|Catholic schools, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, student unionism, Whitlam Government 1972-75|
John Mickel reflects on the difficulties of being a Labor supporter while working in the State education system during the Bjelke-Petersen era. He describes his transfer to a school in Inala and the lack of resources provided by the State government to schools in Labor electorates. He discusses his work for the Teachers' Union and states he joined the ALP in 1978.
|Bill Hayden, Kevin Hooper, school teacher, Teachers Union|
John Mickel describes his transition from teaching to become a researcher for federal MP David Beddall, in Inala. He highlights the diversity of the Federal seats of Rankin and Hinkler. He discusses his attempt to enter State parliament and going to work for Wayne Goss as a political advisor.
|Bob Hawke, ministerial advisers, Wayne Goss|
John Mickel states that from 1990-91 he worked for the Minister for Administrative Services, Ron McLean (1989-92). He discusses working with McLean to redress social disadvantage.
|Goss Government 1989-96, Ron McLean|
John Mickel states that from 1991-95 he worked for Premier Goss as a senior policy advisor. He describes his role and discusses working with the public service.
|Kevin Rudd, ministerial advisers|
John Mickel discusses the relationship between the Goss Government and the public service. He highlights the different public service expectations of the Bjelke-Petersen and Goss governments. He discusses the role of the Office of Cabinet.
|Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Cabinet Office, Goss Government 1989-96, relationship with public service|
John Mickel reflects on the fall of the Goss Government. He cites the 1995 leaders debate as a factor in the 1995 election result.
|1995 election, Goss Government 1989-96, Mundingburra by-election 1996|
John Mickel states that following the election loss he went overseas. After he returned he lectured at QUT but was asked by several Labor politicians, including Peter Beattie, to return to politics. He was working as an advisor when he was selected to run for the State seat of Logan.
|Carruthers Inquiry, Peter Beattie, Wayne Goss|
John Mickel discusses his preselection and ALP factions. He also discusses internal factional politics. He describes the 1998 election and the popularity of Pauline Hanson in the Logan electorate.
|factions, Mike Kaiser, Pauline Hanson|
John Mickel describes becoming a new parliamentarian and challenges of replacing Goss as the local member in Logan. He connects the importance of being a strong local member with combating support for Pauline Hanson in the electorate.
|induction, Pauline Hanson, Wayne Goss|
John Mickel discusses his roles and goals for his first term in parliament. He was chair of the Ethics Committee, Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Food Committee. He decribes how he immersed himself in the variety of roles in order to represent Queenslanders.
John Mickel describes his appointment to the Beattie ministry after six years on the backbench. He describes his surprise at being appointed Minister for Environment in 2004.
John Mickel discusses his relationship with both Wayne Goss and Peter Beattie.
|Peter Beattie, Wayne Goss|
John Mickel discusses his time as Minister for Environment. He describes his focus on water conservation and the changing attitudes to water tanks. He describes his reliance on the department to provide sound advice.
|Bob Brown, Environment, water infrastructure, water policy|
John Mickel discusses his transition from Minister for Environment to Minister for Energy and refers to a report in August 2004 that Premier Beattie had overruled him on energy issues.
|Darryl Somerville, media|
John Mickel describes Anna Bligh's rise to become Deputy Premier. He discusses his own political career and his appointment to Indigenous Affairs. He discusses his relationship with Indigenous community leaders and refers to the Government Champions program.
|Anna Bligh, Indigenous Affairs, media, Murrandoo Yanner, Sam Watson|
John Mickel describes the fallout from Beattie's labeling of him as a 'Mr Fixit'. He discusses the problems with electricity supply during his time as minister and the need to improve public information to inform people about electricity supply.
|electricity, media, Peter Beattie|
John Mickel describes his shift to Minister for State Development in 2006. He discusses the Smart State agenda, the response to this initiative internationally and the level of cynicism displayed by the media and the public towards the concept.
|Queensland Brain Institute, Smart State, State Development Department|
John Mickel discusses the process of selling the Smart State concept. He reflects on inter-departmental cooperation.
|Education Department, Smart State, State Development Department|
John Mickel discusses the transition from the Beattie to the Bligh government and the shift from Smart State to Towards Q2. He highlights the various roles he had during the Bligh years, he became Minister for Transport, Trade & Industrial Relations. Later this was changed to State Development and Industrial Relations.
|Bligh Government 2007-12, Q2, Speaker|
John Mickel reflects on the changes to the role of Speaker introduced by the Bligh Government. He expresses his disapproval of transferring the responsibility for the administration of parliament to the Executive.
|Anna Bligh, Bligh Government 2007-12, parliamentary reform, Speaker|
John Mickel describes the changes to the Committee System. He states that they allows members to develop greater knowledge of policy. He argues that the parliament should increase its numbers to reflect population growth and further enhance its effectiveness. He states that the changes to the role of the Speaker were the only negative part of the changes.
|Bligh Government 2007-12, committee system, parliamentary reform, Speaker|
John Mickel pinpoints the privatisation of the retail arm of Energex as his best decision. He also discusses the sale of the airports as another positive move.
|airports, electricity, energy production, privatisation, Queensland Rail|
Labor Party politician John Mickel served as minister for seven portfolios in five years (2004-09) under Premiers Beattie and Bligh, before his appointment to the role of Speaker (2009-12).
John Mickel was born in Murgon, west of Gympie, in 1953 before his family moved to Ipswich and then Brisbane when he was very young. Educated at St James’ College and St Laurence’s College in Brisbane, he completed a Diploma of Teaching at the Mt Gravatt CAE while undertaking further studies at the University of Queensland, including a Master’s degree in politics. First working as a state school teacher and then Queensland Teachers’ Union official, Mickel later worked as a senior policy advisor to the Goss Government and then to Opposition Leader Peter Beattie. At the 1998 state election Mickel became the Member for Logan, the seat vacated by Goss on his retirement from parliament.
After spending the first two terms of the Beattie Government on the backbench, Mickel was made Minister of a series of critical and difficult portfolios, beginning with a ‘shock’ appointment as Minister for Environment in 2004. This was followed by appointments to the Energy (2004-06) and then Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Policy (2005-06) portfolios in times of political trouble. His appointment to the Indigenous policy portfolio came after the resignation of the previous Minister, Liddy Clark, over the so-called ‘winegate’ scandal. Gaining a reputation as a hard-nosed crisis manager, he earned the unwanted tag of ‘Mr Fix-it’, as seen when as Minister he oversaw the troublesome rollout of the Transport Department’s ‘GoCard’ system. In all he served as minister for seven portfolios in five years under Premiers Beattie and Bligh, including appointments to key ministries such as State Development(2006-07), Employment & Industrial Relations (2006-09) and Trade (2007-09).
In early 2009, following the re-election of the Bligh Labor government, Mickel was elected Speaker of Parliament and proceeded to exert a ‘schoolmasterly’ but widely respected authority over the running of the Assembly. Early in 2011 several changes to the Speaker’s role and powers, recommended by the bipartisan Committee System Review Committee, were accepted by parliament in moves that Mickel called personally disrespectful and undemocratic. He announced some months later that he would not re-contest his seat at the next state election, held in March 2012, at which the Bligh Government was defeated and Mickel’s seat of Logan – like so many others across the state – fell to the LNP.
Copyright © Centre for the Government of Queensland, the University of Queensland 2012.
The copyright holder of this material grants users permission to access the material on this website for the following purposes only: research and study, education, other non-commercial and non-public uses.