PRI­VATE AN­NASTA­CIA

What you don't know about Queens­land's Op­po­si­tion leader

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Frances Whit­ing

TQ: What's another name for Queens­land's Op­po­si­tion?

A: Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs. he butt of the afore­men­tioned punch­line, An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk, has heard all the jokes, in­clud­ing the one about how the Queens­land Op­po­si­tion gets to work ev­ery day – by Maxi Taxi. The 44-year-old leader of La­bor's much-de­pleted cabi­net can even sum­mon a po­lite smile when re­minded of all the one-lin­ers that fol­lowed the dec­i­ma­tion of the state ALP on the night of March 24, 2012. But be­neath the hu­mour lay the se­ri­ous busi­ness of a once-proud party re­duced to a hand­ful of (in­clud­ing Anna Bligh, who re­signed af­ter win­ning her seat, An­drew Fraser, Kate Jones and Cameron Dick) and won­der­ing what the hell had hit them.

The an­ni­hi­la­tion of Queens­land La­bor by the Camp­bell New­man-led Lib­eral Na­tional Party was the worst de­feat of a sit­ting govern­ment in the state's his­tory. La­bor lost 44 seats, and Palaszczuk, whose mem­ory of elec­tion night re­mains “ra­zor sharp”, says she felt ev­ery sin­gle one of them fall.

“I was at the Chan­nel Seven stu­dio do­ing live commentary and I felt com­pletely dev­as­tated,” Bris­bane's CBD. “I had an inkling it was go­ing to be bad; the State Sec­re­tary had said ear­lier that week, `it's go­ing to be a lot worse than peo­ple think'. I can't re­ally de­scribe the feel­ings of that night, ex­cept to say I just felt very empty. At one stage it looked like we might have only four seats. I ran into Ri­cho [for­mer fed­eral La­bor power­bro­ker Gra­ham Richard­son] and he told me, `Make your com­ments short and brief, be­cause it looks like you might have a very big job ahead of you'.”

This would prove the po­lit­i­cal un­der­state­ment of the year, be­cause Palaszczuk now has to an­swer what is ar­guably the big­gest ask in Aus­tralian con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics. As Queens­land's La­bor leader, her chal­lenge is to turn around the party's for­tunes, re­gain the peo­ple's trust and win enough seats at the next elec­tion to safe­guard her own po­si­tion. Palaszczuk casts her eyes around her pub­lic fall from grace. While the Queens­land Op­po­si­tion had al­ways been housed on the sixth LNP Govern­ment cit­ing the need to use the op­po­si­tion's tra­di­tional base as com­mit­tee rooms.

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