Why would she race to the electorate of Traeger – held by KAP with a 28 per cent margin – knowing how close this October 31 poll will be?
The answer is simple. Annastacia Palaszczuk is fighting for just one vote in this election – and that’s Robbie Katter’s.
Katter’s in a strong position, and he knows it, believing his power to negotiate is muted if he declares support one way or the other, and he showed that again with a broadside to both parties yesterday.
He’s open to working with either Labor or LNP, though, and knows the good money is on a minority government, where his demands – which range from more dams to a dedicated infrastructure fund – will need to be treated seriously.
Palaszczuk and Deb Frecklington know that too. That’s why it’s a load of baloney that both leaders are refusing to rule out quitting if they can’t form majority government. And it’s why the voters in Traeger – named after the inventor of pedal-powered radio Alfred Traeger – are already this election’s big winners.
Ask, and they will receive.
Labor has ground to make up after it stripped KAP of staff a couple of years ago, but has been trying to kiss and make up for a while now, with a newfound love for mining, and handing money to those who do it.
It won’t stop there. The 26,000-odd voters in a seat that covers more than 400,000 square kilometres have an extraordinary say at this poll, across a range of issues.
It’s a political gerrymander of sorts that gives those in Mount Isa, Cloncurry and Charters Towers and a handful of other areas an inordinate say in the future of the state. And it makes Robbie Katter a Clayton’s Premier.
In a sweet irony it’s almost deserved, because too often both big political parties forget the plight of those Queenslanders who live outside the state’s densely populated southeast. If either party can win enough of those seats, big ones, like those run by Katter, don’t matter as much.
But this time, they do – and Frecklington too will be lining up to pay homage to the leader of another party, who could have the only vote that counts when it comes to making her premier, or opposition leader.
All this elevates Robbie Katter’s demands for his own electorate; above the demands of those in some seats where more than 40 per cent of workers are on JobKeeper, or where mental health services are struggling to meet the demands of those who need them, or where stretched police resources can no longer meet the rising tide of crime.
It means Robbie Katter’s influence, outside his seat, could make a genuine difference in Redlands and Toowoomba and South Brisbane too.
Just imagine if he looked beyond the big boundaries of his electorate, to support the state’s nurses or increased action on domestic violence or a bigger say for our school principals.
Imagine if he demanded that mental health services be tripled across the state, not only in Mount Isa. Imagine if he demanded a new offensive against crime, that might not be the same problem it is in his seat as it is in other areas of the state.
He’s the Queen Maker in this election, and he’s missing an opportunity to help so many outside his electorate if he doesn’t use it.