On paper, David Crisafulli should be the textbook political leader.
He grew up in North Queensland and lives on the Gold Coast. He’s worked in the private and public sectors, run a business and worked for others.
He’s been a councillor and deputy mayor at local government level and an MP, minister and now Opposition leader at the State government level.
He’s been a ministerial adviser and a journalist, trained in honing a message from the inside, and the outside.
A fortnight short of his 43rd birthday, he’s been part of the losing team on election night. And at the next poll, he’s asking voters to make him Queensland Premier.
Two significant factors stand in his way: firstly, he needs to beat the incumbent, Annastacia Palaszczuk, in the leadership stakes; and secondly, he needs to lead a team that could run the State.
And right now, he should be thankful the poll is a long way off.
Let’s take that first challenge first. Queensland Labor is not performing well, by any standard, and the furore around transparency and ethics goes to the heart of a tired and arrogant administration.
Health problems – from bungled operations to ambulance ramping – no longer startle us like they should. We are almost used to it not working.
A suburban crime wave is gripping Brisbane after dark, and the government response is silence.
But it’s a government good at telling us how good it is, and not answering many questions. And, at least to this point, that seems to be working.
The LNP has not been able to seriously dent its fortunes despite the daily mismanagement that is now part of our news diet.
Yes, David Crisafulli has pinpointed Government sneakiness (eg releasing information they don’t really want us to know on a Friday afternoon), won a few notches over appalling health situations, and backed net zero emissions by 2050.
But it’s knocking down ten-pin bowling pins, one at a time. Not a single strike – and that’s what he needs.
Time is both his friend and his enemy. Labor has now dominated government for three decades in Queensland, and it is showing. It seems almost proud of the hubris it shows.
But David Crisafulli’s LNP is not known for its patience. He will run out of time unless he is able to cut through, and deliver his message to voters.
Ask a 17-year-old the name of the State’s Opposition leader, and many of them will pass, and want to phone a friend. That’s not good enough, when he needs to be articulating a way forward that envelops those who will vote for the first time.
And this brings up the second challenge he faces in leading his team to victory. His team.
Who are they? The three standouts just happen to be women, although the party hasn’t always been friendly to them. Deb Frecklington, Fiona Simpson and Ros Bates.
But take them away, and look at the team that David Crisafulli wants us to back. Jarrod Bleijie as deputy leader?
At least he has some name recognition, I guess. And then there is a string of others. Do you know what role Laura Gerber has in the party? Ann Leahy? Brent Mickelberg? Dale Last? Sam O’Connor? James Lister?
Apparently former leader Tim Nicholls is still in Parliament.
Queenslanders should be able to recognise every one of them, and know how they would better serve us.
In a world where social media is all encompassing, it’s not easy to find space. But unless the party does, it will be granting the Palaszczuk Government another historic term in a few years’ time.
So how might David Crisafulli boost his own – and his party’s chances?
We need to see him as one of us. With the same struggles and challenges and wins.
Perhaps he could sit in the back of the Hannah Clarke inquiry, and come up with the plan that might make a material difference to many women, and some men, in this State.
Or he could develop a strategy for this state’s young people, who are growing up in a time that is delivering increased rates of depression, self-harm, mental illness and suicide. The tail of this Covid legacy is frightening. How might his vision change the lives of those he serves?
Or he could tell us how the LNP might navigate a new school curriculum for years 11 and 12. Is he happy with the present one? Why not?
How might integrity and transparency improve under the LNP. Don’t tell us it will. How would it really work?
Is Jarrod Bleijie the best deputy on offer? What candidates are being encouraged to stand at the next election? And how will talented women shine in a party where some would prefer them to remain in the dark?
You can throw money at health, but it will always be swallowed quickly. What’s the innovation around health that might make all the difference?
Campbell Newman, Lawrence Springborg, Tim Nicholls and Deb Frecklington have all sat in David Crisafulli’s chair, and lost.
Why will it be different for David Crisafulli?
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