How Premier plans to win a third term

 

ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk has laid out plans for a battle in the bush and on the beaches in the lead-up to October 2020, as the Premier fights to win a third term in office.

In a wide-ranging and exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail while visiting the marginal seat of Maryborough, the Premier also declared she had no intention of vacating the top job just yet.

And Ms Palaszczuk strongly dismissed suggestions her Government should shoulder the blame for federal Labor's shocking electoral drubbing in May.

But she acknowledged the Government had work to do to ensure regional voters did not abandon the party on a state level on October 31 next year.

The Premier told The Sunday Mail it was still her intention not to reshuffle her Cabinet heading into the election, but left the door open should anything change in the next 11 months.

"I can't predict the future but I am very happy with the team and what we have achieved and what we have done together," Ms Palaszczuk said.

She would not name who she believed her potential successors could be within her team.

"I am absolutely comfortable in my position and I have a lot more steam in me to go," she said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Maryborough. Picture: Paul Beutel
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Maryborough. Picture: Paul Beutel

 

Battle for the coasts

Labor wrestled Brisbane-based seats from the LNP in 2017 to secure its majority. Ms Palaszczuk tole The Sunday Mail of Labor's intention to loosen the LNP's stranglehold on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast this time around as it plots a path to winning the election and the state's first four-year term. That includes the party's hopes to seize on the retirement of high-profile LNP backbenchers Jann Stuckey and Mark McArdle.

"There's a couple of retirements that are happening in the LNP as well and we believe we have our eye firmly fixed on campaigning strongly in those seats."

Ms Stuckey's Gold Coast-based Currumbin electorate is currently held by the LNP with a margin of just 3.3 per cent after Labor managed a 2.4 per cent swing toward it at the 2017 State Election.

The merged conservative party holds Mr McArdle's Sunshine Coast seat of Caloundra with a fractionally larger margin of 3.4 per cent with Labor securing a 1.3 per cent swing towards it last election.

Labor has already announced candidates in both seats. The LNP is yet to name who it hopes will retain them for the party as it works to hold its current 38 seats and to pick up a further nine to wrest power from the ALP.

The regions

The ALP is also working to regain the trust of regional voters following Federal Labor's drubbing at the May Federal Election, and to move past the bad blood created by the handling of the Adani coal mine. Ministers are being dispatched to the regions on a regular basis. Even parliament was sent north in a bid to appease voters in a city linked to three crucial north Queensland seats.

"I think people know the difference between federal elections and state elections. I don't see Federal Labor taking any responsibility when we win at a state level," the Premier said of the May Federal Election.

"But, having said that, we are all part of the Labor Party and the Labor movement and I think we need to articulate as a party more to workers across the nation about what we stand for and what our values are and I think that's been missing.

"I was perhaps one of the first leaders who actually came out after the Federal Election, recognised that Labor had let people down and that we needed a reset button."

The Premier said she was confident her three Townsville-based MPs and three central Queensland MPs would survive electoral assaults from the LNP and One Nation.

Integrity scandals

The Government goes into the election year after a horror few months of integrity scandals including one that threatened to claim the scalp of Ms Palaszczuk's deputy, Jackie Trad. The Crime and Corruption Commission cleared Ms Trad of wrongdoing but it also recommended new offences to criminalise future ministerial conflict of interest and register of interest breaches. A CCC assessment of allegations against Ms Palaszczuk's former chief of staff David Barbagallo over a $267,500 taxpayer-funded co-investment awarded to a company he part owns remains ongoing.Ms Palaszczuk said there had been problems but insisted the Government was stable. She backed Ms Trad to retain her seat.