Tips for more Palaszczuk backflips

IT seems "what would Peter Beattie do?" is the question that the Palaszczuk Government has resorted to asking itself just months out from the state election.

And it has resulted in two epic backflips over the past two weeks already, epic feats that even the former premier, who turned the about-face into an art form, would have been proud of.

First came the promise to air-condition every state school classroom in Queensland.

For two years this idea was derided by the Government as irrational and irresponsible after it was unveiled as a promise by Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington.

Yet suddenly it was sensible and affordable policy and Labor was going to complete the task much faster than the LNP ever could.

Then this week it was youth crime and a new five-point plan to tackle growing community concern. The Government blamed magistrates for causing the problem while it simultaneously continued to argue that there really wasn't a problem.

It was enough to make even Beattie blush.

 

Caricature: Brett Lethbridge
Caricature: Brett Lethbridge

 

The Adani dilemma aside, it hasn't been in this Labor administration's DNA to perform such death-defying highwire acts.

It all smacks a bit of desperation, a frantic effort to push the electoral needle in Labor's direction as polls continue to show Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's popularity has plummeted and her Government is in a neck-and-neck race against the LNP.

So it's worth asking what backflip would Beattie do next? What other policy barnacles would the unflappable former premier with the trademark grin remove? Here's a handy five-point backflip plan that the Government might want to consider.

1. BONE THE PUBLIC SERVANT BONUS

This really is money for jam, a lot of money. Tens of millions of dollars in one-off "bonuses" of $1250 are being handed out to public servants who sign onto new wage deals. Yet the wage deals are already pegged at twice the current inflation rate. While the workers in 1 William Street might be chuffed, the bonuses have struck a chord with Queenslanders. In a struggling economy where jobs are hard to come by and wage rises are rare, this looks like an extravagant and reckless waste of taxpayers' money because it is.

2. DITCH THIS DOG OF A DEAL FOR HOUSEHOLDS

Metre readers no longer have to read your meter. You're kidding? Nope. Government-owned energy distributors have decreed they will no longer enter a property when there's an unrestrained dog. While the policy is fair enough where there's a history of a dangerous dog, it's being applied to every pooch, including puppies. Puppies! Energex and Ergon won't negotiate with households, won't say when they'll drop by and are demanding owners lock up their animals for up to five days. If households don't comply then the energy companies just guess their energy use. What a dog of a deal.

 

3. POSITION, POSITION, IT'S NOT OUR POSITION

If you ever wanted to cause the property market to collapse, a good way to go about it would be to restrict owners' rights through a raft of draconian rules. But surely no-one would do that, right? Wrong. Under the Palaszczuk Government's rental reforms, there won't be a right to refuse pets, renters will be able to perform their own modifications and owners will need a valid reason to end a tenancy. With 750,000 rental properties in Queensland and thousands of people aspiring to own one, that's a lot of upset owners and they all vote.

4. JINGLE BELLS, THIS POLICY SMELLS

The Palaszczuk Government's part-time public holiday on Christmas Eve might have seemed like it was providing workers with a nice little early present. Yet according to statewide research, it resulted in hundreds of businesses closing early, casual staff being denied extra working hours and owners having to work themselves. Maybe up in the North Pole they believe everyone should be gathering around the fireplace, knock back eggnog on Christmas Eve. But in the real world, extra costs can break a retail and hospitality business and plenty of them have branded the Government as the Grinch.

5. BRING BACK THE SPIVS

Admitting "oops, soz, we accidentally introduced a financial gerrymander for no reason" isn't going to be easy. But the developer donation ban is up there with anything Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen did to influence elections and that's a comparison Palaszczuk does not need. A whole raft of innocent people and organisations, including charities that get a helping hand from someone considered a developer, are now at risk of being caught out. But the Government's plan for donation and expenditure caps means the developer ban will be pretty much pointless and presents a perfect platform for a Beattie-style backflip.


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