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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.

Pic­tures: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled

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.

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