Power-mad Premier has lost the plot


For years, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has effectively been a supporting actress to Victoria’s and New South Wales’ leaders, but now she’s taken a lead role she clearly doesn’t want to relinquish the stage.

How else to explain her determination to create a border war with NSW, which is not only nonsensical but will damage the tourism industry in Far North Queensland for years to come.

Like a second-tier player who’s finally gained equal footing and greater relevancy in the national arena, she’s wielding her new-found power just a little too strongly.

We can only assume, given Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly has said there is no reason to keep the borders closed, that Ms Palaszczuk is playing a political game.

With a state election looming in October, and her Government looking vulnerable, the Labor leader is hoping that by appearing tough and defiant “to protect Queenslanders”, the commanding presence that has boosted Scott Morrison’s stocks will similarly empower her.

If so, she is both seriously misreading the state she claims to want to safeguard, and antagonising the others that help keep her economy afloat.

Stroppy north Queenslanders periodically call for their tourism-playground region to split with the south and create their own state.

With Ms Palaszczuk playing the stern nanny, you can see why.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is not letting go of the spotlight. Picture: Dan Peled/AAPSource:AAP

Queenslanders who rely on tourism for a living are looking on in bewilderment as the most populous states, NSW and Victoria, release their people from the shackles of lockdown.

They can’t go overseas. All dressed up with nowhere foreign to go, the shivering southerners would be looking to Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia for some winter sun.

Ms Palaszczuk’s direct contravention of Prof Kelly’s view that a border closure “doesn’t make sense” threatens to kill off a chunk of Australia’s $80 billion domestic tourism industry if the state border remains closed throughout the lucrative winter holiday season. Last year, 2.2 million interstate overnight visitors travelled to Queensland in the winter season, spending more than $1.5 billion.

It’s not just her hardball stance that is antagonising tourism operators but her vacillating messages as to when the border may or may not reopen. For weeks she has been saying that the closure would be reviewed at the end of each month but on Monday she let slip that it might not happen until September. The state’s chief health officer Jeannette Young then said it may even be later than September but then confused matters further by saying it might be sooner. This comes just 10 days after the Premier released Queensland’s road map for easing restrictions which suggested interstate and further intrastate travel could be permitted from July 10.

It’s so laughably confusing, and somewhat reminiscent of comedian Matt Lucas’s scathing imitation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s confounding speech a couple of weeks ago.

If Ms Palaszczuk persists in pandering to the health fears of the urban elite by continuing to flatten the economy despite a national flattening of the curve, she can expect a bloodbath come the election. Indeed, her constant revisions on the border issue show how deeply out of touch she is with one of her state’s key industries. As one objector has pointed out, Queensland’s leaders have little business experience: “They expect operators to start up overnight when given the latest revised date to open. This presumes merely turning on the light and opening the doors. No concept of long lead times for staff training and supplies to meet the raft of new regulations regarding COVID-safe service.”

In any case, tourism executives have said some ventures will not survive another two months without interstate visitors. “Cairns, for instance, is not even hibernating, it’s withering,” says Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind.

But this isn’t just a tourism issue. Between Brisbane and Ballina, hundreds of thousands of people live and work in a region that straddles the border. Denied the ability to cross that border without an exemption, people have not seen friends, family or been able to visit the bigger centres to shop for months now. It defies logic that someone living at Bangalow can drive nine hours to Sydney for a party but can’t drive 45 minutes to the Gold Coast to see their mother.

The bitter row between states means residents have not been able to see family living only a short distance away. Picture: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

The bitter row between states means residents have not been able to see family living only a short distance away. Picture: Patrick Hamilton/AFPSource:AFP

The Queensland Premier has struck up a war of words with her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

The Queensland Premier has struck up a war of words with her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAPSource:AAP

Ms Palaszczuk is looking foolish. A cynic could think she is doing this to divert attention from her government’s electoral problems. The state’s debt is gargantuan, its credit rating is in danger of being downgraded and the public service is bloated beyond efficient.

She has just lost her powerful deputy premier Jackie Trad who has stood down after she became the focus of a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation. Further, there is still simmering anger in the mining regions over the State Government’s obfuscation over Adani.

Coupled with her wrist-slap of NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian following her call to reopen the border, Ms Palaszczuk’s firm but folksy Nanny McPhee image may have endeared her to voters when she was first elected, but it just makes her look incompetent now.





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