Former Queensland Minister Leanne Donaldson will be judged by voters on her record. Picture: John Wilson
Former Queensland Minister Leanne Donaldson will be judged by voters on her record. Picture: John Wilson

Premier failed to control rogue MPs

LEANNE Donaldson loves the Bundaberg region, according to the brief profile provided on her Australian Labor Party candidate's website.

"Leanne is extremely passionate about the beautiful Bundaberg region where she has the privilege to live and work," the four paragraph life snapshot reveals (she also likes going to the local markets!).

What the biography doesn't tell Bundaberg voters is that she has acquired a Low Doc mortgage for her home as well as using a self-managed super fund to acquire a $150,000 block of land on Flinders Island off Tasmania property owned with her daughter Ashleigh.

This might be of little or no importance if it wasn't for Ms Donaldson's history with handling money - or not handling it as it happens.

Two years ago, Ms Donaldson was sworn in as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in Annastacia Palaszczuk's second ministry.

Ms Donaldson stayed in the job for just 11 months, having to finally and reluctantly relinquish her Cabinet spot after a series of revelations about how she couldn't manage her personal finances.

First she was driving an unregistered vehicle and then she owned up to owing about $8000 in unpaid rates on her $358,000 ocean facing house, despite having an annual salary of just over $320,000.

At the time Ms Donaldson was driving while her licence was suspended. Her failure to manage her finances was explained as a lapse of memory, a relatively small matter and, finally, associated with a previously unknown depressive illness.

The messy nature of Ms Donaldson's financial fail became worse as time went on - she was in arrears for three years, the Australian Labor Party settled the debt with Bundaberg City Council and then she repaid the ALP.

Ms Donaldson's second - and last - chances ran out and she resigned from Cabinet with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying the minister had failed to maintain and meet expected community standards.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk failed to take control of wayward MPs. Picture: Evan Morgan
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk failed to take control of wayward MPs. Picture: Evan Morgan

Now, a week out from a close election in which every seat is going to count, Ms Donaldson has jarred once more.

Taking out a Low Doc loan when she is on an MP's bumper salary and making an unusual land purchase raises new questions about Ms Donaldson's ability to manage money.

This revelation will not help Ms Donaldson's chances of re-election and therefore Ms Palaszczuk's wish to get a second term.

Seats like Bundaberg were never going to be easy but they are just the territory Labor must hold if they want to stay to the right of the Speaker.

This is a reminder of Ms Palaszczuk's inability to act decisively on wayward MPs. She only acted on Rick Williams, the trouble prone Member for Pumicestone, just days before she called the election (some say it was a cynical excuse for calling the snap poll).

Mr Williams shouldn't have been kept in the fold for 33 months while his misdeeds mounted. Also, if he was a candidate for disendorsement why wasn't Ms Donaldson also on the list. Could it have been her close links with the powerful unions, the CFMEU and ETU?

The Premier also allows former police minister Jo-Ann Miller to stay in the party, even after she used Parliament to accuse the government of turning a blind eye to corruption.

Ms Miller, who also enjoys the backing of the CFMEU and holds the safest Labor seat in the state, practically taunted the Premier yesterday by embracing Pauline Hanson on the campaign trail.

Jo-Ann Miller needed to be controlled by the Premier.
Jo-Ann Miller needed to be controlled by the Premier.

The only silver lining from Ms Donaldson's controversies is that recent polling suggests the voters are going to do what Ms Palaszczuk couldn't bring herself to do and that's showing the Member for Bundaberg the door.

Maybe the view from her Flinders Island property will be scenic enough to act as a salve for any hurt she suffers if she does succumb to a bitter voter sentiment.

She'll just have to make sure she remembers to pay her local rates - she won't have the ALP at hand to fix her bills.

Sunday vote count is a must

THERE'S every chance that at the close of counting late on Saturday night Queensland will be without a clear election victor.

The tightness of the race and the One Nation factor mean a significant number of seats may remain in the balance for several days as preference flows are sorted and pre-poll and postal ballots counted.

There's also the very real prospect that the state will face another hung parliament and lengthy negotiations before a minority government can be formed. Which is why the Electoral Commission of Queensland's practice of not counting votes on the Sunday after polling day is so clearly an anachronism.

Queensland elections have thankfully been spared the blunders that in recent times have plagued electoral officials nationally, even resulting in a Senate recount in Western Australia.

However, the state needs the certainty of an election result as soon as possible after polling day. In a modern, fast-paced world, the Sunday hiatus on counting should be banished to history.

 

Responsibility for election comment is taken by Sam Weir, corner of Mayne Rd & Campbell St, Bowen Hills, Qld 4006. Printed and published by NEWSQUEENSLAND (ACN 009 661 778). Contact details are available at www.couriermail.com.au/help/contact-us



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