Why Premier might not make it to October

ALMOST from the moment she assumed the LNP leadership, people have been saying that Deb Frecklington was not up to the task.

Broadwater MP David Crisafulli appears to get asked almost daily to challenge for the job.

Pretty much anything he puts on social media attracts comments such as "we need him now" and "Queensland's next Premier".

But could it be that it is no longer Ms Frecklington who should be worried about a challenge to her position, but her Labor counterpart, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk?


Deb Frecklington and David Crisafulli. Picture: Peter Wallis.
Deb Frecklington and David Crisafulli. Picture: Peter Wallis.


Three months ago, such a suggestion was unthinkable. Rolling a Premier who had secured two impressive election victories and was in with a strong chance of a third would be extraordinary, even for the viper's nest that is Australian politics,

But a lot has changed since.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a true test of leadership, and Ms Palaszczuk has been made to look stubborn and weak.

Early success in preventing the spread of the virus is now being overshadowed by the shambolic approach to ending the lockdown.

At a time when businesses need certainty, they instead have been delivered chaos and confusion.

On May 18, Ms Palaszczuk stunned tourism operators by unexpectedly dropping into an interview on a morning breakfast show that the border was unlikely to reopen until September. Until then businesses had been gearing up for a reopening on July 10, as stipulated in a state government road map released just 10 days earlier.

"It's not my decision, it's based on the best health advice," Ms Palaszczuk said, by way of explanation. That health advice has never been properly outlined, although Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young came closest to explaining the reasoning when she said: "My advice is that we need to look at this carefully and our Premier is extremely cautious."


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has frustrated tourism operators with her hard line stance on the border. Picture: AAP
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has frustrated tourism operators with her hard line stance on the border. Picture: AAP


Then on Sunday, Ms Palaszczuk announced Stage 2 of the road map was being brought forward, meaning hospitality venues could host up to 20 people from noon the next day.

It was welcome news, but left operators scrambling.

"I think she could have given us more notice," bar operator Scott Imlach told the Bulletin. "It's not just letting in 20 people, it's putting on more staff, organising more menus, changing the booking system."

Operators could also only wonder why they were limited to 20 patrons, while their counterparts in NSW are allowed 50 despite that state suffering many more cases of coronavirus.

All the while, other states are busy stealing our tourism business - a business that will be hard to win back.

"At this time of year eighty-five per cent of our clients are from the southern states and New Zealand", said Maree Hene, manager of the Ocean Plaza Resort in Coolangatta. "When they can't come to Queensland because of the border closures they'll be making their holiday destinations places like Kingscliff and once we lose those clients we'll never get them back. People like to settle and go to the same places every year, so we can really assume that they're gone."



A near-empty beach at Coolangatta. Picture: AAP.
A near-empty beach at Coolangatta. Picture: AAP.


The embarrassing admission that a man from Blackwater authorities said had died from COVID-19 did not actually have the disease has only added to the sense of dysfunction.

All of a sudden, a Premier who looked like election gold, now looks like a liability. Whatever hope Kaylee Campradt had of snatching Currumbin from Laura Gerber in October has surely been snuffed out. Even Meaghan Scanlon, despite her personal popularity, must be vulnerable in Gaven, especially if a way cannot be found to rescue the theme parks.

Premier Palaszczuk looks jaded and weak. There are able, popular and experienced Labor figures who would bring new energy to the role. Could it be that prior to the October election it is Ms Palaszczuk, not Ms Frecklington, who is persuaded to step aside?

Originally published as Why Premier might not make it to October