GIVE ME THE TOP JOB*
* You’ll just have to trust us when it comes to yours
UNEMPLOYED Queenslanders are no closer to knowing exactly how their next premier will fix what is now the nation’s worst jobless rate after Labor and the
LNP yesterday failed to outline any new jobs-creation schemes at their official state election campaign launches.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the word “jobs” 22 times in her speech packed with promises, while
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington focused almost solely on the economy. But neither leader unveiled any new policies to address the jobless rate – which is now worse here than even in locked-down Victoria.
ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk has vowed to help the unemployed, struggling school children, working families and the dying as she unveiled a multibillion-dollar pitch to Queenslanders ahead of early voting starting today.
The big-spending Premier made a plethora of promises at yesterday’s Labor launch, including committing to introduce voluntary assisted dying legislation to the parliament in February if she is returned to power on October 31. With Labor firmly placing its handling of COVID as its central pitch to voters, Ms Palaszczuk failed to mention any achievements over her past two terms of government or any new ideas to tackle Queensland’s soaring unemployment rate just days after the state recorded the highest jobless rate in the country – behind locked-down Victoria.
The Premier chose instead to spruik her plan to come out of the COVID pandemic “stronger” and “more secure”.
Her euthanasia pledge, which reversed an earlier decision to carefully consider the results of a Queensland Law Reform Commission review in March, came as she poured $171m into improving palliative care and spoke of the “deeply personal” experience of losing a loved one.
Ms Palaszczuk, who recently lost her grandmother, said she wanted to do more “to provide greater comfort and dignity for people approaching the end of their lives”.
While the announcement was described as “deeply disappointing” by Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Ms Palaszczuk said she believed people should have “all the options available” and she would give her MPs a conscience vote when the laws were debated, with the QLRC now asked to report back sooner than March.
“Leadership means being able to take the hard decisions, not just the easy decisions,” she said.
The surprise commitment came amid $2.56bn worth of new announcements at the party’s launch in workingclass Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, where speakers celebrated the government’s success at managing the COVID health crisis and asked voters to consider how Queensland would have fared under an LNP government that opened the borders.
As Ms Palaszczuk arrived, a video montage showed news reports on the spread of COVID-19, international border closures, the Ruby Prin
cess, Victoria’s second wave, and clips of Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington and LNP colleagues calling for the borders to reopen. That was contrasted with the Premier saying she would risk losing the election “if it means keeping Queenslanders safe”.
Wearing a Labor-red suit jacket, Ms Palaszczuk earned several standing ovations as she laid out her announcements in rapid succession.
They included free TAFE courses and apprenticeships for under 25s for in-demand jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, early childhood education, aviation, electrical and automotive, costing $21m.
Mental health care would get a $100m boost to ensure every primary and secondary state school student has access to a psychologist, youth worker, behavioural specialist or other professional if needed.
Labor would spend $8m to create “homework hubs” at 120 state schools where teacher aides will supervise children to alleviate the pressures on working parents.
The Premier confirmed a $2.2bn spend to hire 6100 teachers and 1100 teacher aides to match growing student numbers, and $20m to set up paid internships to attract aspiring teachers from other fields, as revealed in The Sunday Mail. And she pledged $40m for advanced manufacturing hubs in a continued push to grow manufacturing capabilities in the wake of the pandemic.
Harking back to its working-class roots, Labor held its launch at the industry and union-backed Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre, to which it has previously given $24m in funding.
About 100 socially distanced attendees watched from the floor, including the Premier’s parents and federal Labor president Wayne Swan, while another 500 watched a live stream from home.
Taking to the stage after speeches from her “rock” and deputy Steven Miles and four “ordinary Queenslanders” – an apprentice, a nurse, a small-business owner and a senior who heralded her handling of the COVID crisis – the Premier said voters had
“a very clear, and very important choice” to make.
“This election is a choice between the stability of a Labor government that has made the tough decisions and the right calls in hard times,” she said. “Or the chaos of an unproven, untrustworthy opposition who have been wrong every time it’s mattered.”
Deputy Premier Steven Miles earlier reminded the faithful of what he called the tough but correct calls Labor had made in the 263 days it had been battling COVID.
Apprentice Sage Maxwell asks Annastacia Palaszczuk for a selfie; (inset from top) the Premier with her parents Henry and Lorelle Palaszczuk, and on stage with her deputy Steven Miles and Treasurer Cameron Dick.