With the battle for border control heating up, and COVID-19 outbreaks still simmering across Australia, Queensland Premier, the Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, is seeking to prevent community transmission and to win the upcoming state election which will be held on Saturday 31 October 2020.
Following our profile on NSW Premier, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, the Nexus team is continuing our series of ‘Premier Profiles’ and we have analysed the background of Premier Palaszczuk.
With this in mind, here are our key insights on the impact and continued suppression of COVID-19 in Queensland, as well as our analysis on the upcoming state election.
Before entering politics, Premier Palaszczuk worked as a policy adviser to several Queensland Labor ministers, including Minister for Communities, Disabilities and Seniors, the Hon Warren Pitt MP and former Minister for the Environment, The Hon Dean Wells. Premier Palaszczuk then pursued a career in the legal profession and was studying for admission as a solicitor when her father announced his intention to retire at the 2006 election.
In the wake of her father’s retirement, Premier Palaszczuk contested and won Labor preselection for his seat of Inala in south-west Brisbane, the safest Labor seat in Queensland, and was elected with a margin of more than 30 points. Palaszczuk rose the Labor ranks quickly during the Bligh Government, and in 2011 served as Minister for Transport and Multicultural Affairs.
Following Labor’s defeat in the 2012 State Election, Palaszczuk succeeded former Premier the Hon Anna Bligh MP as leader of Queensland Labor. During her tenure as Opposition Leader, Palaszczuk closed the significant polling gap between Labor and the LNP, and on several occasions outpolled then Premier the Hon Campbell Newman MP as preferred Premier. Despite this, most commentators gave Labor little chance of winning the 2015 State Election.
In an election result that surprised nearly all observers, Labor won a 12-point swing and came within inches of winning a majority government – taking 44 Labor seats to 42 for the LNP. With the support of independent Peter Wellington MP, Palaszczuk was able to win the confidence of the Queensland Legislative Assembly.
Premier Palaszczuk most recently won the 2017 Queensland State Election. Although polls indicated the race would be close, Premier Palaszczuk ultimately won 48 seats, a net four-seat swing in its favour, allowing Labor to form government in its own right by two seats.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Queensland border is currently closed to all of Victoria, NSW and the ACT. Queenslanders returning home can enter but must go into mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense. Premier Palaszczuk has come under pressure to ease border restrictions, with Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP expressed concern in a letter to the Premier about the economic hit to the agricultural sector and supply chains, warning they were at risk of being impeded by border restrictions.
In response to call to open the border, Premier Palaszczuk says she will not be pushed into changing her stance on the state’s border closure, saying that “The federal government can throw whoever they want at that, we can have Clive Palmer as well.” Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, called on Premiers and Chief Ministers to show “more compassion” saying that “I think there’s so much confusion and ultimately too much cruelty in the way that their borders have been closed,”
Despite the pressure placed on her to open the borders, Premier Palaszczuk has gotten several wins for the state due to her tough stance on borders, including the hosting rights for the AFL Grand Final, which was announced on Wednesday.
Hosting the ALF Grand Final is a major coup for Queensland, with the AFL Grand Final never being held outside of Melbourne in its 123-year history. This may bring a good feel factor to the Palaszczuk Government before the 31 October election.
Recent polling of Queensland voters shows approval of the Palaszczuk Government’s response peaked at the height of the so-called “border wars” in May as Palaszczuk steadfastly resisted calls to remove the Coolangatta-Tweed barricades. However, while the Labor government’s outbreak response has received high praise from voters, the LNP still holds a marginal lead in two-party-preferred polling.
Premier Palaszczuk holds a healthy lead in preferred premier polling over LNP leader the Hon Deb Frecklington MP. Despite holding a slim lead in two-party-preferred polling, the LNP backroom recently led a failed attempt to remove Frecklington, primarily driven by polling that shows she has been able to cut through against Premier Palaszczuk.
While both the LNP and Labor are currently neck and neck, considering the impact of COVID-19 on the political agenda, and Premier Palaszczuk high approval ratings, Labor is a slight favourite to win re-election when Queenslander’s go to the polls. Nexus will continue to provide updates on the 2020 Queensland State Election as they continue to unfold over the coming months.