Houghton: Why Premier will lose election
ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk is heading to an October election she will probably lose for a very good reason: she deserves to.
Queensland has the worst unemployment and economic record in the nation and our accidental premier had presided over a trail of blunders in crucial service delivery areas.
Sclerotic traffic flows have all but destroyed the relaxing day at the beach once enjoyed by Brisbaneites. A minor prang on the M1 can add two hours to a trip to Surfers Paradise or Noosa.
Our schools fail literacy and numeracy benchmarks, ambulance ramping is back and our hospital waiting lists have blown out. A major hospital ran out of bandages because of an IT bungle.
Queensland leads the way in only one economic indicator bankruptcy.
I don't know anyone who honestly believes the Palaszczuk years have left them feeling more confident, relaxed, excited or empowered about the future.
Palaszczuk presides over a dysfunctional government. Last year we even saw the spectacle of her staff members fighting in public at the racetrack. Her flip-flop on Adani flummoxed the mining industry, infuriating a large section of her support base and scaring investors.
Several of Queensland's Cabinet ministers, including her Treasurer Jackie Trad, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath and Minister for Employment Shannon Fentiman were involved in integrity scandals. And Palaszczuk's own integrity remains under a cloud.
It happened when she broke one of the golden rules of Queensland politics: Never underestimate the Katters.
Her bid to pull funding from Katter's Australia Party backfired spectacularly with a rebuke from the Crime and Corruption Commission.
It found her pressure on KAP members was "entirely inappropriate" and "exposed her to the prospect of facing a charge of bribery"
Curiously, the crime watchdog then referred the matter back to State Parliament, where Palaszczuk suffering an adverse finding from the parliamentary Ethics Committee.
She was forced to make a grovelling apology to the House after the committee found her actions amounted to improper interference with the free performance by the KAP members and constituted contempt.
In any other political jurisdiction in the world, that would have been the end of her political career. There was misconduct so improper it bordered on criminality.
The LNP missed an opportunity to form an alliance of convenience with KAP to finish her off.
Oddly, neither the Opposition nor the media pursued the scandal and the most important story of political wrongdoing in years slipped off the radar in 24 hours.
The Katters are political street fighters who could teach the LNP a thing or two about hand-to-hand combat.
Even within her own party Palaszczuk is regarded as a weak link.
The unions have more power than the Government and have forced Palaszczuk and Trad to abandon the pretence of centre-ground politics to embrace the far-Left.
Queensland's 233,673 public servants have become milch cows of the union movement, with millions in union fees channelled to the ALP.
Public service employee expenses soared to $25 billion under Palaszczuk. We now spend more on public sector employees per capita than any other state - yet service delivery lags.
We must give Palaszczuk her due. She has done exceptionally well for
someone with so little talent. Still, I do not detect much visceral hatred against her in the electorate.
Not yet, anyway. But resentment is growing with many Queenslanders fearful for their jobs.
Australia's leading economic commentator, Judith Sloan, recently described Trad as Australia's worst treasurer in an article headlined, "Spendthrift treasurer doesn't have a clue".
"Under Trad as Treasurer, there is absolutely no intention to pay down government debt or constrain the size of the public sector," Sloan said.
"Government debt in Queensland is the highest in the country among the states."
And this week we learnt Trad's debt-reduction plan carries a 50 per cent risk it will drive the state's $90 billion public service defined benefit superannuation scheme into deficit, potentially forcing taxpayers to top it up.
Meanwhile, the state is in an "infrastructure recession" says the Queensland Major Contractors' Association.
"Princess" Palaszczuk somehow appears detached from all this.
She flits around the word flying first class and parades in $1000 frocks while rushing for photo opportunities with Jeff Horn, Johnathan Thurston or some new theme park superhero. And all the while she assiduously avoids
sit-down interviews with journalists from the print and electronic media. She is hiding in full view of the media. Who will flush her out?
Des Houghton is a media consultant and a former editor of The Courier-Mail and Sunday Mail