Annastacia Palaszczuk has often used the phrase “What you see is what you get” as a political mantra. She first used it in 2015 as the newly elected premier, then again in 2017 before a leaders’ debate, and repeatedly during the challenging Covid campaign of 2020.
Therefore, it may come as no shock that, a year prior to the upcoming state election and with surveys indicating that Palaszczuk and her administration are struggling, the premier of Queensland has returned to familiar grounds.
She stated to Australian Associated Press this week that although [Opposition leader David Crisafulli] talks about it, there is no plan or action in place.
I am authentic and genuine.
Labor’s 2020 victory followed an almost presidential campaign built around Palaszczuk and her personal popularity. Queensland is a deeply complex state, where voters differ from region to region, and where policies pitched in one electorate might backfire in another.
The premier has consistently crossed over political and geographical barriers by uniting improbable groups of voters. The key to this achievement has been the participation of women.
Limited state surveys did not delve into this level of detail, but according to Labor insiders, the party likely held a 60-40 lead over the Liberal National party among female voters in the previous election. This data paints a bleak picture for Labor supporters in more recent polls.
According to recent polls conducted by the RedBridge group, the Labor party is behind by a margin of 53-47 among women in the entire state. This trend is consistent across all regions, with the LNP leading among men (58-42), in north Queensland (55-45), central Queensland (63-37), and even in the south-east (53-47).
Palaszczuk doesn’t just have a polling deficit to overcome. She has a structural problem in that Labor does not have a base from which to build a successful election campaign.
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The future of Palaszczuk’s achievements is in question.
Labor recently released their first campaign advertisement, over a year before the upcoming Queensland election. Some people expressed concerns about the start of a year-long campaign.
Fortunately for the people of Queensland, the promotional video serves as strong proof that the Labor party is not prepared for campaigning. The weaknesses of the party are evident in Palaszczuk’s emphasis on issues typically important to traditional Labor supporters, such as healthcare, education, housing, and social progress. The video also highlights initiatives specifically aimed at women.
The video also conveyed a distinct message: Palaszczuk will be at the helm of Labor for the upcoming election.
Party regulations mandating a lengthy leadership competition have solidified Palaszczuk’s position, preventing Labor MPs from making a move against her several months ago.
During the month of August, there was speculation that Palaszczuk may be persuaded to step down from her position before the end of the year. This involved senior members of her party approaching her and proposing that it would benefit the party if she were to resign. It was suggested that she could leave as a respected member of the Labor party.
However, a significant defeat in the election, or a challenging situation for a new leader during an election year, could jeopardize her accomplishments and impact.
Some Labor MPs proposed that Palaszczuk be given a few months to allow the talk about her leadership to subside before she resigns on her own accord. Meanwhile, Daniel Andrews has stepped down while his popularity is still high. Palaszczuk continues to fight on.
Political attack lines
Although the previous week did not indicate the beginning of a year-long campaign for election, it has provided us with a glimpse of what the upcoming year will entail.
The LNP holds only four seats in Brisbane and has previously run conflicted, ineffective campaigns against Palaszczuk. In the process it has lost regional voters to rightwing fringe parties and lost any semblance of a foothold in the city.
The general belief is that the LNP would have to secure both liberal inner-city districts and traditional conservative regional areas in order to gain a majority. However, their decision to no longer support Queensland’s treaty process suggests that the LNP is focusing solely on the outer suburbs and regions, even if it could result in losing traditionally LNP-leaning city seats like Clayfield to the Labor or Green parties.
The LNP is anticipated to resemble a party under the guidance of Tony Abbott – relentlessly taking advantage of all political opportunities, determined to win at any cost after facing defeat in 11 out of the past 12 state elections – rather than showing concern about any unintended consequences of their actions.
The labor party is longing for the familiarity of their successful tactics from past elections and has already set up traps for Crisafulli.
The LNP is under pressure to decide whether they will maintain Labor’s raised royalties, as coal companies continue to make large profits. By not ruling out potential royalty adjustments in the future, Crisafulli is setting himself up for potential criticism. The opposition is already prepared with their arguments: what budget cuts will he make to offset the royalties? Will he follow in Campbell Newman’s footsteps and sell off assets?
This week, Labor made a controversial move by attempting to pass a law that would solidify their energy policies. This includes setting targets for renewable energy, but the catch is that it would also require government ownership of the energy industry. If the opposing party, LNP, shows any hesitation, it could bring back memories of past campaign issues involving Campbell Newman.
This could potentially benefit the Labor party, or it could have the opposite effect. If voters perceive Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government, which has been in power for eight years, as exhausted, using the same attack tactics may only reinforce this belief.