Frecklington’s stunning attack on ‘designer label’ Palaszczuk
SHE'S been mistaken for Annastacia Palaszczuk once too often, but Deb Frecklington insists: "I am so not her."
Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Mail on the eve of election year, the Queensland Opposition Leader admitted to being tapped on the shoulder by strangers saying "hello Premier".
But Ms Frecklington, the long-serving Member for Nanango, said any similarities ended with hair colour and age.
"We're both brunettes, I'm 48 and she's 50, but we are just such different people," Ms Frecklington said.
"She has deliberately changed her image - the whole 'Princess Palaszczuk' is pretty obvious - but I haven't changed mine.
"I have no choice but to remain grounded, because of (husband) Jason and the girls," said Ms Frecklington, mother to Isabella, 21, Lucy, 19, and Elke 17.
"I can have a tough day but then I'll get a call from one of my kids and you've got to deal with whatever's going on in their lives. She, on the other hand, has had a complete makeover - all the makeup, the designer labels, it's too much, when there are bigger issues to focus on."
The Premier and her key female ministers, Jackie Trad and Kate Jones, have taken to wearing high-end label Scanlan Theodore, whose suits cost more than $1000.
"I really want to stay as I am," said Ms Frecklington, who shops at Target and Cue.
"You always need to be presentable, but what people want in a politician is someone who is down to earth, who will work hard for them, and who isn't going to change when they become a politician.
"And I'm still exactly the same person who puts the thongs on and goes to Woolies on a Saturday morning because I've run out of milk.
"With me, what you see is what you get."
She's in poll position
While the LNP is tipped to win the 2020 election, Ms Frecklington knows she has plenty of work to do before Queenslanders vote on October 31.
"We are up against the might of the union movement, but I'm energised and excited for the next 10 months," she said.
The latest The Courier-Mail/YouGov poll shows Labor has fallen behind the LNP on a two-party-preferred basis for the first time since May 2016.
The Government's backflip over Adani and Ms Trad's integrity scandal have contributed to the slump, and only one in three voters are satisfied with Ms Palaszczuk's performance.
But the poll also indicates that Ms Frecklington has challenges to overcome if she is to move into 1 William St.
While 30 per cent of voters are satisfied with her, an equal number are not, and 40 per cent remain unsure.
"I've had a very clear goal from the beginning - we have to get Queensland back," Ms Frecklington said.
"It's embarrassing as a state when every issue - whether it's child safety, education, unemployment, or how long people have to wait for a hospital bed - we are at the bottom of the pile, and it's not good enough.
"My team and I, none of us got into politics to just sit here and be politicians. We're here to make the state better.
"Palaszczuk was always going to be a politician - she took her father Henry's seat; her only job outside of being an MP was working in a ministerial office."
Worker, student, mum
Ms Frecklington's first job after boarding school at Ipswich Girls Grammar was a suit fitter at Fletcher Jones in Brisbane's CBD. (She also has sold car products, run a coffee shop, been a receptionist, and a partner in a law firm.)
"I will always remember dressing Roisin Goss for the 1989 election night (Labor's Wayne Goss won). She wore a blue and white jacket and navy skirt, and I sold her that!"
Ms Frecklington went on to study business at the University of Southern Queensland and then got a law degree, externally through QUT, while raising her young children in Meandarra, in the Western Downs.
Juggling motherhood and study was tough, particularly towards the end of her second pregnancy.
"We were living three-and-a-half-hours' drive from Toowoomba, and a couple of times Lucy just stopped moving. It was really stressful.
"The Tara hospital wouldn't see us, so we kept driving to Dalby and they didn't have equipment working at the time, so we ended up in Toowoomba.
"It highlighted to me the isolation of living in regional Queensland.
"I was lucky but many people aren't, and we need to have the basics of healthcare in those communities."
When Lucy was born, 10 days early by caesarean section, there were complications.
"She had a defect in her spine, and Jason and I were told it might be spina bifida, which can cause problems walking," Ms Frecklington said.
"We had to wait 24 hours for test results, so you panic and start reassessing your life - we'll have to move or modify the house, and so on."
Fortunately, Lucy was given the all-clear, but the impact on Ms Frecklington was long lasting.
"It is not OK that bush babies are at risk.
"Theodore and Chinchilla both have maternity services and the Palaszczuk Government wants to shut them.
"Under Bligh and Beattie's reigns, Labor shut 26 maternity services. They don't realise that distances claim lives."
Focusing on big issues
Ms Frecklington said being a mother made her acutely aware of the challenges families face, not only in the bush but in the cities.
"If you want to be premier you have to understand the hardships of people in the regions but also of people in Mansfield trying to pay their bills.
"You can't be swanning around at the Logies and boasting about your overseas trips; how out-of-touch is that with everyday Queenslanders? I don't know what Palaszczuk is concentrating on if her big issues are changing the name of the children's hospital and naming a football stadium after a (former) Labor politician (Terry Mackenroth) in a captain's call she had to reverse.
"I pride myself much more on my actions than on my look."
Ms Frecklington said she was "no different to any other female - we all love clothes, makeup and jewellery".
"But whenever anyone brings up that Palaszczuk and I look similar, I think, thank goodness that I am nowhere near like her.
"I'm not trying to be something I'm not.
"Being premier is a big job, the state is huge, and I'm ready for it."