Frecklington, left with Tim Nicholls, put in a highly credible performances as spokeswoman on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry before being appointed to the deputy leadership position in 2016  Photo: Liam Kidston
Frecklington, left with Tim Nicholls, put in a highly credible performances as spokeswoman on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry before being appointed to the deputy leadership position in 2016 Photo: Liam Kidston

Meet the LNP’s first ever female leader

FROM a majority of women in Cabinet in the last parliamentary term to a majority of women in leadership roles in the next - Deb Frecklington's elevation to Opposition leader is another milestone in a state carving a path to gender equality.

Just don't call the laconic western Queenslander a feminist.

With a childhood spent on an 11,000ha property at Guluguba, between Wandoan and Miles, the 46-year-old, who now lives in Kingaroy, took Nanango in the LNP landslide of 2012.

She had already made her mark in the male-dominated legal world as partner in Kelly and Frecklington Solicitors before she entered politics.

She studied for her law degree at the University of Southern Queensland while co-managing broadacre cropping properties with husband Jason, all while raising three daughters.

Quick to make her mark, the brash and ambitious young lawyer, whose first job off the family property was as a men's suit fitter at Fletcher Jones in Brisbane, wasn't at all overawed by the big boys in Parliament.

FROM a majority of women in Cabinet in the last term of the state government to a majority of women in leadership roles in the one to come – Deb Frecklington’s elevation to opposition leader would be another milestone towards gender equality.
FROM a majority of women in Cabinet in the last term of the state government to a majority of women in leadership roles in the one to come – Deb Frecklington’s elevation to opposition leader would be another milestone towards gender equality.

Her robust engagements with hecklers in the chamber were so marked, members of the press gallery affectionately dubbed her "Deb Hecklington''.

Frecklington now joins Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad in a trifecta of female leadership positions at the helm of the state.

But, like many women on the conservative side of politics, Frecklington adopts (former British prime minister) Margaret Thatcher's approach to the question of feminism, refusing to view her life and career through an ideological prism.

"I just think women, like men, can get there on their merits,'' she said after taking the deputy leadership position in 2016.

"And I just think that while we need to provide opportunities to make sure that we do push women forward ... I think we have got to be careful not to play on it.

"Strong women like to stand on their own two feet.''

Frecklington hit the ground running during her first parliamentary term, appointed assistant minister for finance in Campbell Newman's administration, and working to reduce red tape.

She did a good enough job to save the business community $425 million a year (according to Treasury figures).

In 2014, she became assistant minister to the premier, with oversight of the hugely successful G20 gathering in Brisbane. She then managed to salvage her seat out of the wreckage of the 2015 election, when Labor turfed out the LNP after just one term.

In Opposition, Frecklington put in a highly credible performances as spokeswoman on agriculture, fisheries and forestry, before being appointed Deputy Leader and taking on the portfolio of infrastructure, state development and trade.

Tim Mander, above right, Frecklington’s proposed deputy, surprised his LNP colleagues in his maiden speech in 2012 when he announced he had grown up in an ALP household. Photo: Anna Rogers
Tim Mander, above right, Frecklington’s proposed deputy, surprised his LNP colleagues in his maiden speech in 2012 when he announced he had grown up in an ALP household. Photo: Anna Rogers

Last week she was using her rural Queensland background as a prop for her pitch for the leadership, suggesting a "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps'' approach to political life.

"I was raised in a family where you didn't just sit back, complain and expect others to create opportunities and solve problems,'' she tells Insight. "You put up your hand to serve your community, in whatever way you could, not just to make things better for your own family, but for everyone in your community.''

Soaring power prices, job-creating infrastructure such as roads and dams, and tax cuts to free up small business to create jobs for our young people will be her priorities.

"Most Queenslanders just want to have a steady job, build a good life for their family and get ahead,'' she says. "They want politicians who represent them and their communities, not their own self-interests.

"I can assure Queenslanders that I take a no-frills attitude to politics, and with me, what you see is what you get.''

Tim Mander, Frecklington's new deputy, surprised his LNP colleagues in his maiden speech in 2012 when he announced he had grown up in an ALP household.

"My family was as Labor as they come,'' Mander told the House. "My parents were from an era when the Labor Party represented the value of the average worker.''

The Christian and Bible college graduate and former chief executive of Scripture Union Queensland long ago lost his faith in Labor, but the award-winning rugby league ref has kept a wide appeal among ordinary Queenslanders.

The father of four and former Queensland Father of the Year (2005) has been a strong performer since his 2012 election win, and he was housing and public works minister in the Newman government.

Brisbane-born Mander attended Grovely State School and Mitchelton State High School, and he also served as shadow minister for police, fire and emergency services, as well as corrective services.



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