If you’d read the Murdoch press in the weeks leading up to the Queensland election, you’d be forgiven for your shock at the actual results.
Gentler reports predicted Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk would scrape home by the skin of her teeth. More commonly she was written off completely. One columnist sensationally claimed Labor would be humiliated by a 10 percent swing to the Liberal National Party.
The reality? Palaszczuk cleaned up. The Labor Party secured a 5.3 percent swing, with the ABC’s election computer predicting the party would end up with 52 seats compared to the LNP’s 34. Moreover, Palaszczuk would become the first female political leader to secure three successive victories.
Such an emphatic win is testament to Palaszczuk’s unwavering drive and conviction. While critics will condemn her hardline approach to Queensland’s COVID response, the truth is, she was a Premier who listened. She understood that the state she represented expected her to act a certain way and she delivered. She put her people first, as good leaders do.
But outside of COVID and 2020’s myriad curveballs, Palaszcuk’s remarkable achievements cannot be shrugged off. Unlike so many politicians of this fickle era, Palaszczuk’s popularity continues to grow, to maintain potency and to hold longevity. (More than can be said for any of our federal leaders over the past decade).
Elected unopposed in 2012, many expected Palaszczuk’s leadership to languish for multiple terms given the LNP’s state stronghold. But in 2015, she pulled off the impossible, bringing Campbell Newman’s once-landslide LNP to its knees and forming a minority government with the support of Independent MP Peter Wellington.
In 2017, she won again, and this time more decisively. A second term as a majority government, the Labor Party held 48 seats.
And now, in what many commentators refer to as the most challenging year to win an election, she’s done it again. Through a campaign focused on jobs, the environment, regional and rural community growth, reducing household budget pressures, and the strategic use of public finances.
(And of course, an excellent bi-product of Palaszczuk’s political prowess is that it led to the demise of Clive Palmer who failed to pick up a single seat on Saturday despite spending upwards of $80 million on propaganda. And One Nation which bombed in its home state with just 6.9 per cent support statewide.)
Certain news outlets will still tirelessly peddle the line that Palaszczuk was “lucky”. The Australian went so far as to suggest that the Premier “owed her success to lady luck as well as a dint of effort.” Others referred to Palaszczuk’s “fighting chance”. A finely woven and poisonous narrative that Palaszczuk should still be regarded as the “accidental Premier”.
But pay no heed. Palaszcuk’s achievements have nothing to do with ‘luck’ and everything to do with leadership.
One senior Labor MP told the Guardian that authenticity is central to the Queensland Premier’s appeal.
“She says all the time ‘With me, what you see is what you get’ and that’s a great political line, but the reason it works so effectively is because voters can see that it’s true,” the MP said.
And it’s this legacy that Palaszczuk– now in government for an historic third term– will leave.