01 Oct Politicians who stay silent
Every politician will try to skew their message to get the best possible reaction.
That’s why bad news is put out on a Friday night, and the good news is held over to Sunday, when there’s not such a fight for top billing.
But politicians – and particularly political leaders – who stop answering questions or who stop making themselves available or who refuse to respond to genuine community concern deserve the voter wrath that’s eventually delivered in a brutal manner.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has crossed that line, and her government looks only interested in keeping itself in power.
Someone on the Premier’s team recently had a verbal joust with me; I had labelled her, shortly after her historic win, the “accidental premier”, and her supporter hoped I’d now eat my own words (it was delivered in another way, but that was the gist).
But she was elected, accidentally. That doesn’t take away from her win but few expected her to be premier – and that included some of her most senior Labor allies.
Indeed, so strong was the belief that Campbell Newman’s LNP had an impregnable majority, another Labor MP was ready for a crack at the leadership.
Often history turns on a dime and Labor, with Palaszczuk at the helm, delivered an electoral flogging to the LNP and its leader, who had alienated almost every group of voters.
To the Premier’s credit, she took that unexpected win and made it her own by the time she headed back to the polls for a second term.
While painstakingly slow making some decisions – particularly those relating to business – she moved the social policy goal posts, particularly in traditionally difficult areas such as abortion law reform and gender equity on boards.
Now, with a year to polling day, the government and its leader have never been more policy shy – and every announcement looks directly related to keeping the party in power.
So much so, even wins like abortion law reform are not being sung from rooftops, in case they remind conservative voters of what a radical lot Labor might be.
But this approach, of being a tiny target, will backfire.
Palaszczuk has found a job for most of those journalists who questioned her in Parliament.
And she refuses to be questioned by others, including, it seems, Rebecca Levingston on 612 ABC Mornings.
Levingston says she asks regularly but is declined always. Other journalists say the same.
So what you see is what the Premier wants you to see, without critical analysis.
Let’s just take a couple of tweets she made yesterday.
“My government is providing the essential frontline services Queenslanders need by investing in health and education and transport.” Really?
Is that what our nurses are saying? Or our doctors? It didn’t feel like it, last weekend, stuck in traffic between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Or: “We have a firm eye on the future for the entire state and that’s why we’re considering a 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.’’
On the future of the entire state, or on the future of Labor?
Or this week’s announcement of political donation caps.
Is it a good idea? Or does it mean Labor can get around it by allowing every single union to donate the maximum amount? If that’s the case, couldn’t it nobble the LNP and provide a war chest for Labor?
So many questions. And so few answers.
Madonna King is a leading journalist and commentator. An award-winning presenter of 612 ABC Brisbane, she has authored 12 books and now works across radio, television and online.