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It's not a good look, but does Premier deserve to be chased around Italy by paparazzi?


Despite having led her party to three terms in office, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has suddenly found herself friendless within the party and equally so in the wider community, writes Madonna King

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No-one is going to roll Annastacia Palaszczuk. But gee, it’s difficult to find anyone who genuinely wants to save her either.

And that presents a problem for both the Premier, who is on the other side of the globe, and her Labor Party, desperate to be gifted another term in power at next year’s State election.

So how might this play out?

If Annastacia Palaszczuk is to vacate her office, she will have to lose in a coup, or alternatively offer up the job and provide a reason for doing that.

A coup is virtually impossible for two reasons. Firstly, Labor Party rules, after a string of previous embarrassments, make it nigh impossible to knock off a serving leader.

But secondly, while the Premier has become almost as unpopular within her Party as she has in some electorates, she might still top the voter list of candidates.

Her deputy Steven Miles is capable and amicable and down-to-earth, but hasn’t won over the voting public.

Shannon Fentiman, who was given the difficult portfolio of health by the Premier in what some of her supporters say was a deliberate move to scratch her public profile, is still inexperienced. And she remains behind Steven Miles in the Left faction leadership ladder.

That leaves Treasurer Cameron Dick – whose brother Milton, ALP Speaker in the Federal Parliament, is one of Palaszczuk’s closest allies – but he is from the wrong faction and won’t take the number one post.

Dick is also perceived as quick to advance himself, as seen with the release of his light manifesto on keeping Labor in power, while his boss was still suffering jet lag in Naples. Voters might also find him hard to warm to – as some of his colleagues do. Annastacia Palaszczuk looks like one of them, given she didn’t tell him she was heading to warmer climes.

All that means is that, without a popular likely replacement, Annastacia Palaszczuk knows she could hang on to the premiership.

‘Hang on’ is the crucial phrase here, because it would take a small miracle for her to win back her reputation and authority – inside or outside the Party – from here.

It’s hard to hide blood in the water. And that’s especially the case when it’s placed there by your own side.

All three of those mentioned above, as ‘next in line’, have been milking the controversy, adding fuel to the leadership fire. Dick’s manifesto play was only just below Miles and Fentiman’s smiling joint press conference.

They know how these optics look, and with more journalists working for this government than ever before, they would have surely also been told it.

The Labor Party is a ruthless machine. That’s why it should never be underestimated in any election campaign. Strategically, it is all over the other parties.

That means while the Party hierarchy – principally a couple of powerful union blokes – might remain behind the current premier, they will not risk an electoral loss.

When the time comes to move, the party has a history of doing it with vicious speed.

Is it coincidental that this story broke, as the Premier boarded a 25-hour flight to another time zone with her boyfriend?

Was her trip really scheduled? And if so, why would’t she have told her own Cabinet she was leaving?

Is she there for a holiday, or to recover from health problems as she intimated yesterday?

Whatever the answers, she doesn’t deserve to be chased down a Naples street like a small-time crim. But the answers to those questions will dictate how long she will enjoy sufficient support to ‘hang on’ as leader.

This saga already, along with crime and housing and incumbency, will cost it seats – and Labor bosses know that.

The problem for Annastacia Palaszczuk is that, on gaining the premiership, she was inundated with support, particularly from Labor Party colleagues who wanted her to succeed. They liked her, and her ability to listen. And that spread across factions.

Talk to them now, and one by one, she’s shed them. Perhaps Jackie Trad – a likely successful candidate for party leader if she remained in Parliament – is a case in point.

Yes, the premier still has a few party faithful she might confide in, from Naples. Grace Grace could head that list.

But this melodrama is a lesson in life: if you don’t remember people who helped you on the way up, they will be very quick to forget you, on the way down.

Some will even campaign for others to forget you too.

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