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Campaigning 101: When in doubt, just say what the other guys are saying

Campaign Diary

If minimising mistakes is the key to victory, a clumsy stumble over public sector jobs has given Premier Palaszczuk the points for week one, writes Dennis Atkins

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Week one of Queensland’s short and sharp election campaign was dominated by both major parties seeking to neutralise possible negatives or stumbling blocks on the path to power.

The three major issues involved saw Labor handle one with skill and exploited some uncanny luck to navigate another. Annastacia Palaszczuk swept through far north Queensland hunting kudos for being pro-mining and pro-regions – two keys needed to crack the code for possible support from the certain-to-be influential Katter’s Australian Party after polling day.

The Premier also danced through a threatening political storm over border policies, because of an unexpected spate of community transmission cases in New South Wales, just as renewed pressure emerged on Queensland’s no-regrets hard shutdown stand.

The LNP’s Deb Frecklington showed some tactical nimbleness by shamelessly grabbing the Premier’s policy, cloaking it in “I’m following the health advice” cover and putting herself on a unity ticket with Labor.

While promising to exercise more “compassion, consistency and common sense” if elected, Frecklington has found a safe place to hide what has been almost five months of confusion and double-speak on borders from the LNP. This won’t give her political immunity but it’s the best position she can assume.

Meanwhile, the LNP was nowhere near as agile when it came to public sector jobs, one of the flashing red lights for the conservative team.

With memories of former LNP premier Campbell Newman’s slash and burn cuts to public service jobs and responsibilities still relatively fresh for voters, this is treading on thin political ice.

Frecklington and her accident-prone Treasury spokesman Tim Mander mashed their lines, mixing up voluntary and forced redundancies and failing to get a crisp, clear position.

It didn’t need to be difficult. The answer they should have given was simple and obvious – just mimic the Palaszczuk Government position of reducing positions by natural attrition.

They managed it (finally) on borders. They should have been equally alert on public service jobs.

This fumble meant Labor was the clear winner of week one.

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