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Palaszczuk pushes Labor's pro-mining agenda with 'nation building' project

Decision 2020

Annastacia Palaszczuk has sought to promote Labor’s commitment to jobs while also seizing on questions the Liberal National Party is unable to answer.

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The incumbent Premier was in Mount Isa this morning to visit Glencore and reaffirm Labor’s support for the CopperString project – a major transmission line connecting the mining zone to Townsville – as part of her “laser sharp” focus on jobs.

“This is visionary, this is nation-building, this comes along once in a generation,” Palaszczuk said.

Palaszczuk used the visit to present the Labor Government as pro-mining but moreover pro-jobs, willing to use government funding to support the economy. It continues the policy shift since the last election, when Labor was concerned such an approach might cost them Green preferences in key seats.

At the same time, Palaszczuk also resorted to a familiar tactic of warning that an LNP government would cut public services and jobs to pay for as yet unfunded election promises.

The day after the federal budget was handed down, Palaszczuk and Treasurer Cameron Dick found themselves in the unusual position of backing the Morrison Government’s decision to borrow more and remain in deficit. They said it matched their approach.

It came as Morrison refused to rule out joining LNP leader Deb Frecklington on the campaign trail – bringing his long-running criticism of Palaszczuk to a head.

The Palaszczuk Government handed down a short-term budget update, not a full budget, yet Labor has been keen to highlight the uncertainty over rival plans by the Liberal National Party. Both sides promise to hand down a budget, if elected, early next term, and limited policy costings will be released in the last week of the campaign.

After Frecklington refused to be drawn on whether public service vacancies would go unfilled, albeit again ruling out forced redundancies, Labor today warned of tens of thousands of public sector job losses.

After Frecklington and would-be treasurer Tim Mander spoke of a need for budget repair, amid government waste, Labor today warned that to return a surplus would require significant cuts and job losses.

Dick said the LNP’s plan to spend $33 billion over 15 years upgrading the Bruce Highway was a “hoax” that had so far not seen the Morrison government commit any major increase in funds.

But Mander today said the LNP had been up-front about the need to first work on a plan and then negotiate the funding.

“You don’t invest $33 billion over 15 years without having a good plan, and that’s the first step,” Mander said.

The prospect of increased business and tourism activity in Queensland also dimmed slightly after NSW recorded mystery cases of COVID-19, likely delaying any decision to reopen the border.

Mander criticised Labor for not having handed down a budget this year, reiterating the LNP’s intention to reduce government waste and ensure public funds were being put to best use.

While Katter’s Australian Party has been the strongest advocate for CopperString, Palaszczuk denied her comments were designed to get the minor party on side in the event of a hung parliament. She and Frecklington have sought to rule out any deals to form government.

It came amid continued jostling for preferences, with the LNP’s plan to preference Labor last, and Labor’s plan to preference One Nation last, giving other candidates a potential boost. Deputy Premier Steven Miles called on Frecklington to ensure her party did not deliver preferences to the anti-vaccination Informed Medical Opinions Party.

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