Is Horn’s defeat an omen for Premier?

Annastacia Palaszczuk's address to a Brisbane business lunch last week was packed with pugilist puns ahead her friend Jeff Horn's fight with Tim Tszyu.

"If Jeff was here now I am sure he would tell you it's not the ability to fight that matters, but the belief in yourself," the Premier said.

She added: "It's not how many times you get knocked down that matters, it's how many times you get back up again."

Yet on Wednesday night in Townsville, Horn's famed self-belief eluded him against a younger and faster opponent, and at the end of the eighth round he decided he couldn't get off his stool.

The Labor Government has also been looking a little punch-drunk of late, however most of the blows are coming from its own corner rather than its opponents'.

Queensland Labor's renowned discipline, which has been the key to its electoral success over recent decades, has been shattered.

An array of issues burning in the background have flared up again just as the Government attempts to present itself to Queenslanders as fighting fit for a third term.

Tossing about boxing parlance at business lunches might seem clever but it doesn't hide the fact that the Government has a problem.

These issues are the same ones that have haunted the administration ever since it found itself in government after the 2015 election.

They're the same problems that Labor strategists had been hoping the COVID-19 crisis would cover up as Queenslanders go to the polls on October 31.


Annastacia Palaszczuk with Jeff Horn
Annastacia Palaszczuk with Jeff Horn


A Left-dominated caucus that no longer gets, respects or represents the party's working class base, a lack of a plan to drive economic growth and address a deteriorating budget position and a leadership vacuum that fuels factional fiefdoms and infighting.

Michael Ravbar, the CFMEU boss who's political cunning is often overlooked because of the union's bullyboy tactics, homed in on the Government's estrangement from its traditional supporters when he announced he was ditching the outfit's allegiance with the Left.

"Quite simply the so-called Left faction is now merely an impotent and self-serving echo chamber for a cabal of Peel Street elite who have totally lost touch with their working class roots," Ravbar said.

His comments echo criticisms that have been going on for the past five years, due to its concentration on issues that appeal to inner-city types and attempt to scupper Adani's controversial coal mine.

Before Ravbar, there was the very pointed denouncement of the Government's lack of a plan to address Queensland's dire economic predicament from Right faction figure Cameron Milner.

Milner is one of Labor's most respected strategists and served on Palaszczuk's campaign team in 2015 and 2017.

He's appalled that the Government is arrogantly trying to skate through to the election on the health response to the pandemic while not having a blueprint for restoring the Sunshine State's prosperity.

"The level of electoral complacency and hubris is palpable in Labor circles," Milner said.

He's right.

Palaszczuk appeared cooked at the end of 2019, her popularity shot after repeated integrity scandals.


CFMEU construction division secretary Michael Ravbar on Wednesday. Picture: Attila Csaszar/NCA NewsWire
CFMEU construction division secretary Michael Ravbar on Wednesday. Picture: Attila Csaszar/NCA NewsWire


But the pandemic has breathed life into her leadership, and the last thing the Government wants is for the election to be about the economy.

Milner also pointed out that polls don't show any uptick in Labor support yet and the loss of just two seat would push the party into an unholy coalition with the cross bench.

"The gulf of uncertainty delivered by a minority government in our current economic predicament is frankly unthinkable," he said.

Yet right on cue, Labor indulges in some factional preselection skulduggery, the kind you'd expect from a dominant administration that could afford the fallout, not one in a dogfight for survival.

In Burleigh, Palaszczuk's "captain's call" preselection of surfing legend Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew has prompted the only Labor member to ever win the seat, Christine Smith, to quit the party in disgust.

In Whitsunday, Labor's former candidate Tracey Cameron is telling people to vote for Katter's Australian Party after being push out and replaced by the sister of a sitting MP, someone who just joined the party.

"The whole thing is a dog's breakfast," she said.

Labor will get it together or at least paper over the problems. It almost always does.

But with just 64 days before the election, fewer before many Queenslanders will head to pre-poll stations, Labor has set about reminding voters about why they'd turned off the Premier and her Government before the coronavirus came along.

Unlike her friend Jeff Horn, Palaszczuk continues to be the favourite to win this fight.

However that won't last if her corner keeps pulling the stool out from under her.






Originally published as Is Hornet's defeat an omen for Premier?