Will the Premier’s go-slow tactic result in votes in the Qld 2020 election?
Will the Premier’s go-slow tactic result in votes in the Qld 2020 election?

Will the Premier’s go-slow tactic be an election gem?

The late and great former Queensland deputy premier Terry Mackenroth used to make a colourful observation about Peter Beattie's political fortunes.

If ever Beattie found himself having to stick his arm down a toilet S-bend, Mackenroth reckoned the then premier would pull out a gold watch every time.

However, Annastacia Palaszczuk's penchant for providence is starting to put Beattie to shame.

Every time the current premier has been up to her neck in trouble, she's come out holding a sparkling clutch of diamonds.

Palaszczuk found herself in the premier's chair to begin with in 2015 courtesy of the Newman government's implosion and Clive Palmer's political outfit turning up just in time to split the conservative vote.

Then after a tumultuous term of minority government, Pauline Hanson resurrected herself as a political force and decided to direct her preferences to Labor in LNP-held seats.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk knows how to read the mood. Picture: Liam Kidston
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk knows how to read the mood. Picture: Liam Kidston

And now after a scandal-plagued three years, the downfall of her powerful deputy and the parlous state of Queensland's public finances, a global pandemic is helping to erase the government's foibles from the public's mind.

Even just a few weeks back, senior Labor figures were convinced Palaszczuk's position on keeping the Queensland border closed until potentially September would be the issue that ended her reign on October 31.

But after a second wave of COVID-19 cases struck Victoria, the Premier's apparent indecision appears very much like she held a strong position amid a maelstrom of criticism.

Those same party insiders are all but celebrating victory already.

However, to insist good fortune is the only reason why Palaszczuk is bedazzled by diamonds is akin to claiming Beattie didn't deserve to find gold despite his willingness to get dirty.

You make your own luck, as the saying goes, and the Premier is a far more astute political operative than she's often given credit for.

Sure, she can appear to vacillate and dither at times. But more often than not she does this to take the public's temperature on an issue before making a decision.

Just look at the issue of the NRL's return, for example.

Palaszczuk's New South Wales counterpart Gladys Berejiklian ticked off on the NRL's plan to bring the game back without too much trouble yet Queensland held out.

Whether fans would get footy became all about what Palaszczuk would do.

Then she was personally feted for bringing footy back when she finally made a decision even though very little had change with the NRL's COVID-safe plan in the weeks between the two premier signing on the dotted line.

Well played.

Despite her dithering, Palaszczuk remains popular with voters. Picture David Clark
Despite her dithering, Palaszczuk remains popular with voters. Picture David Clark

Very few leaders have the aptitude and patience for this approach, combined with the ability to read people's mood.

Palaszczuk does. She may even be better at it than Beattie although he'd bristle at such a suggestion.

Still, it would be wrong to assume Palaszczuk will be able to just waltz through the looming election campaign to victory at the end of October.

Public sentiment is shifting rapidly during this unprecedented global pandemic.

Palaszczuk might have wrestled back momentum thanks to the border war but a myriad of problems could surface to turn sentiment against her.

The issue of how Queensland can be dragged out of the financial mire in which it finds itself looms large.

How much this crisis is a catalyst for people's decisions at the ballot box is anyone's guess.

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison's coronavirus response has led to a massive upswing in her personal approval numbers in published polls, there had been little improvement in the Coalition's support until recently.

Something similar was occurring in The Courier-Mail's last YouGov Poll which showed Palaszczuk had recovered much of her lost popularity but the LNP was still in front.

Queensland is also a vast and diverse state and the sentiment in regional areas is often vastly different to what's occurring in the southeast corner.

Still, only the bravest of punters would bet against Palaszczuk unearthing herself another jewel.


Edwards exits

The son of former Liberal leader Sir Llew Edwards has apparently left the employ of the Queensland public service.

David Edwards was hand-picked to be the director-general of State Development during the Newman government and survived the usual political purge to land a role leading special projects under Labor.

Insiders are describing his exit from the position in State Development Minister Kate Jones's portfolio as "sudden".

The family is one of Queensland's most well-regarded.

Sir Llew is famed for standing up to Joh Bjelke-Petersen and his father started electrical firm RT Edwards.

Coveted role

The plot thickens over who might next fill the coveted role of Queensland's agent general in London.

Annastacia Palaszczuk's right-hand man, Dave Stewart, has been strongly rumoured to want the job, which would be a sweet sinecure after many long years of toil in the public service.

However, the Premier's office has confirmed current Agent General Linda Apelt's contract was "recently extended for another year", meaning her term doesn't expire until July 2021.

When Ms Apelt first got the gig in July 2017 it was announced her appointment was for 18 months.

On an island

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga is apparently one very unhappy camper.

She's faced with going to another election having achieved nothing to revitalise Great Keppel Island.

Lauga and Labor pledged $25m to connect the island to mainland power and water but progress has been near non-existent and she's supposedly not impressed.

According to some sources, the government was advised in material prepared for cabinet not to push ahead with what was promised after costings came in at $62m.

Attempts to wedge the Morrison government on the issue have fallen flat and Lauga is at risk of looking like a shag on a rock come the next election.

Wheels of fortune

It seems the best place to be a car dealer right now is somewhere in Moreton Bay.

The carpark used by councillors representing the Moreton Bay Regional Council is packed with some flash-looking sets of wheels.

There's a red Mercedes-Benz and a very sporty new blue Mazda among them.

These apparently arrived after councillors were given a $19,500 yearly allowance for vehicles, all funded by the good folk of the bayside.

In other areas, elected officials buy utes and other vehicles they can use to lend a hand to constituents.




Originally published as Will the Premier's go-slow tactic be an election gem?