Make no mistake – Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decisions on Queensland’s border closures have little to do with science, expert medical advice and infection control.
Her Government’s shocking and potentially deadly double standards prove this point.
Palaszczuk got lucky on borders. She refused to reopen them, despite pressure from all levels, and then coronavirus flared up in Victoria and New South Wales.
She looked like a strategic genius.
The truth, I’m told by several Queensland Labor insiders – both in parliament and the party office – is that internal polling conducted in the lead-up to the election showed border closures were hugely popular.
Keeping infected southerners out of the beloved Sunshine State played especially well in the regions, including must-win electorates in the north and west.
And so, Queensland remained shut – not for the security of the state, but for the security of Palaszczuk’s position as Premier.
It was just sheer good fortune that it worked well for her. That is, until the past few weeks.
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Being strong on borders and keeping Queenslanders safe is a notion significantly undermined when you’ve got one rule for the plebs – even those with life-threatening medical conditions – and another for rich celebrities and powerful sporting officials.
Dannii Minogue can skip hotel quarantine and isolate in a Gold Coast mansion, but a grandma who’s just had brain surgery can’t recuperate in her own home and is shoved into a little motel room instead.
A mother-to-be who needs emergency surgery can’t rush across the border to a hospital 40 minutes away and must instead wait several hours to fly to Sydney, losing one of her unborn twins in the process.
But hundreds of AFL officials and their families stroll into Queensland and have free movement around a luxury resort, sunning themselves by the pool and drinking in the bar.
Just days before her baby died from complications, that same heartbroken mum was told – via a press conference – that “Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders” by Palaszczuk.
She makes politically convenient or advantageous moves, acting based on what’s best for her and her power, and not for the people of her state.
You’ll notice a pattern too – whenever there’s criticism of the Premier in the press, she’ll dodge media conferences and the daily COVID briefing and leave it to her deputy and the chief health officer instead.
If you’re going to make major calls that impact the economic and social stability of your citizens, at least have the kahunas to front up and justify your decisions.
She won’t even pick up the phone to tell her NSW counterpart Premier Gladys Berejiklian that she’s slamming shut the border.
As we found out this week, she won’t answer crucial calls and the pair have no working relationship.
Palaszczuk is either clueless or juvenile.
But given she is an accidental premier in every sense, Queenslanders shouldn’t really expect stellar leadership at this point.
If not for the colossal implosion of Campbell Newman’s one-term government, interim Opposition Leader Palaszczuk, as she was only meant to be, wouldn’t have stood a chance of seizing the top job.
She was a space-filler. One of just several MPs left after Labor’s mammoth 2012 election defeat. She was to keep the seat warm until a few more numbers were added to the ranks in 2015 and someone capable could take over.
There were more than a few Labor figures who found her stunning victory a bittersweet moment.
Her subsequent re-election was thanks largely to a hopeless Opposition that didn’t present a viable alternative. Better the useless devil you know, it seems.
At the risk of sounding cruel, one senior Labor MP I spoke to recently summed up the sentiment surrounding their boss, merely saying: “She’s a moron.”
With some exceptions, Palaszczuk has done little since seizing power than coast along. Dismayed insiders described Palaszczuk’s office as a dysfunctional mess. She is easily distracted. Wherever she grows, a whirlwind of chaos and drama usually follows.
And her priorities are all wrong.
A few months ago, in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic and a looming economic disaster, Palaszczuk’s factional allies were busy helping along the downfall of then-Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.
Trad was seen by many as the logical successor to Palaszczuk when she would inevitably be moved on part-way through the next term. That threat was conveniently neutralised.
Queenslanders will go to the polls at the end of the next month.
It seems Palaszczuk will romp it in, thanks once again to the Opposition being its own worst enemy. But perhaps people should consider dumping the devil they know on the off chance that someone else could actually get something done.
And not just an achievement that’s accidental or the result of self-serving politics of the worst kind.
Shannon Molloy is a senior reporter at news.com.au and, in a past life, was a political adviser in Labor politics in Queensland