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Premier comes out swinging: Expect chaos if Labor does not have a majority

Decision 2020

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wants a mandate to allow Labor to manage the state’s economic recovery for another four years.

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On the first day of the caretaker period, and the start of the election campaign proper, the Labor leader has made a pitch for unity and stability as Queensland endures the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.

After making a visit to Government House, Palaszczuk donned a high-vis vest and hard hat for a media opportunity at the Port of Brisbane, declaring to any Queenslanders watching her press conference that “my job is to also protect your job”.

But Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington later urged voters to consider whether they should trust Labor, noting that “after four consecutive years of the highest unemployment in the nation Queensland is lagging behind”.

As the Premier has done for most of 2020, she started her press conference with the latest number of COVID-19 cases in Queensland – zero – and thanked Queenslanders for their efforts to contain the outbreak.

“We are in a unique time in our lives,” Palaszczuk said, appearing upbeat and confident as she spoke of Queenslanders working together.

“Never before have we been in the midst of a global pandemic and my job first and foremost is to look after Queenslanders and their families.”

Foreshadowing a “tough race” to the polls, Palaszczuk dismissed surveys showing Labor was in a winning position and urged Queenslanders to remain united behind the government that had carried them through 2020.

“Allow me to get on with the job of economic recovery,” Palaszczuk said.

The October 31 election is the first for a fixed four-year term for each of the 93 members and whatever power structure emerges once all votes have been counted. The surge in postal votes may delay results in some close seats.

While Labor is set to preference One Nation last, as is its custom, the LNP has opted to preference Labor last, which would likely favour Katter’s Australian Party, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party and potentially even One Nation in regional seats. In a couple of urban seats, Labor faces a challenge from the Greens.

In recent days, Frecklington has sought to rule out any deals with minor parties to form government, today emphasising “it is a binary choice between those two major parties”.

“And that’s what we’re calling for in Queensland, to support the LNP,” Frecklington said, before donning a high-vis vest and hardhat to visit a Gold Coast business to reannounce space industry funding.

But Palaszczuk warned the LNP’s preferencing strategy was a “recipe for chaos” and would only bring uncertainty.

“I’m asking Queenslanders for a majority, majority brings about stability,” Palaszczuk said.

“I’m asking them to put their faith in us.”

Treasurer Cameron Dick echoed Palaszczuk’s comments, saying an LNP government would seek to return the budget to surplus through cuts and job losses.

Frecklington, supported by treasury spokesman Tim Mander, insisted the LNP had a “bold and ambitious plan” to boost economic growth and employment.

“This election is all about who you trust with the Queensland economy and to create jobs,” she said.

In recent weeks, Labor has been unusually quick – in social media, TV ads and commentary – to criticise any LNP announcements and warn of a return to the cuts of the Campbell Newman era. It has also sought to capitalise on the recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions and, to a lesser extent, a police crackdown on crime in the regions, putting it in a strong starting position.

But amid this well-resourced campaign, Labor has also sought to carefully manage the role of the incumbent Premier, with Frecklington doing media interviews this morning while Palaszczuk did the stage-managed visit to Government House. On day one of the campaign, it would appear Palaszczuk is pursuing a “small target” strategy while Frecklington – who may yet seek to leverage tonight’s federal Budget offering – lays claim to the underdog tag.

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