Review: the year that was in Queensland politics

Labor's Annastacia Palaszczuk vs LNP's Campbell Newman
Labor's Annastacia Palaszczuk vs LNP's Campbell Newman

CAN DO COULD NOT DO

SHOCKING even some staunch Labor supporters, Annastacia Palaszczuk and her comrades managed to kick Campbell "Can Do" Newman and his LNP team out of office before he could even clock a full three years in the top seat.

But mass job cuts, legislation rammed through parliament and asset privatisation plans had marred Newman's burst to power - and voters showed their disapproval at the ballot box.

Although Labor's ranks skyrocketed from the seven MPs elected in its landslide defeat at the 2012 election to 44 in 2015, it was only enough to form minority government.

The result handed two Katter's Australian Party MPs and Independent MP Peter Wellington, who would become speaker, the balance of power.

 

PAST HISTORIES HAUNT LABOR

THE Palaszczuk government's tenuous hold was further fractured when former Labor MP Billy Gordon was forced to resign from the party before he was even able to make his maiden speech.

The Cook MP came under fire for not disclosing his criminal past and domestic violence allegations. Although he was not charged following a police investigation, the now Independent was recently plunged into further scandal amid sexting allegations.

Labor's 43 MPs to the LNP's 42 LNP could further be jeopardised as police investigate claims against Labor Pumicestone MP Rick Williams.

Labor Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson unwittingly became the centre of controversy when her son Alexander posted terrorist-related memes on social media and was subsequently fired from her electorate office.

One of the memes depicted an astronaut armed with a knife on the moon, which had an IS flag, and the other had the 25-year-old's face photoshopped with a beard and Muslim headwear saying God is great in Arabic in front of the twin towers.

 

Alex Donaldson's Facebook post
Alex Donaldson's Facebook post

NO GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD TO ABSOLVE POLICE MINISTER

BUT Ms Donaldson's loyalty was rewarded with the agriculture portfolio in this month's cabinet reshuffle. She replaced Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne, who was given embattled Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller's police portfolio after her forced resignation. It was the culmination of several controversies and a parliamentary ethics committee's findings that she had a pattern of reckless conduct not of ministerial or parliamentary standard.

Former Chief Justice Tim Carmody.
Former Chief Justice Tim Carmody. Chris Ison

CHIEF JUSTICE IS SERVED

THE judiciary, legal community and Palaszczuk government all welcomed Chief Justice Tim Carmody's resignation after less than a year in the position.

Queensland Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo raised issues of bias after Justice Carmody met with a child protection advocate while still deliberating on whether Daniel Morcombe's accused killer's conviction should be overturned.

His relationship with the judiciary rapidly deteriorated when Justice McMurdo refused to sit with him on any court and he allegedly referred to the judges as scum in a secret recording another justice made.

If the former meatworker and police officer was hoping for some support from the man who elevated him to the prestigious position after only nine months as chief magistrate and no time serving as a supreme court justice, he was sorely disappointed.

 

Biographer Gavin King and former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman
Biographer Gavin King and former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman Contributed

IF HE COULD RE-WRITE HISTORY

AT a book launch for his authorised biography, Mr Newman said one of the decisions he would reverse was appointing Justice Carmody. But Mr Newman maintained Justice Carmody was the right man to reform a costly and inefficient court system.

While that decision came late in his term as premier, the other decision he yearned to reverse was one of his government's first acts. He now wishes he did not stop sponsoring the Premier's Literary Award, and for good reason. The fall-out has continued since his government took the axe to it, with at least five bookshops refusing to stock his biography.

Minister for Education, Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Small Business and Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Ashgrove MP Kate Jones .
Minister for Education, Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Small Business and Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Ashgrove MP Kate Jones . Liam Kidston

CHILD SEX ABUSE REPORTS GO MISSING

NO parliamentary inquiry into how 644 reports of potential child sexual abuse went missing was instigated. But an external probe was. The reports sent through a computer system from school principals to police over six months did not make it because of an IT bungle. Although Education Minister Kate Jones blamed the failure on the former Newman government, two education department employees were stood down.

LESS INQUIRIES, MORE DECISIONS?

WHILE the Newman government got the boot for treating its term like a race and ignoring most bystanders, the Palaszczuk government could be accused of the opposite.

Labor has been attacked for its slow pace over the past nine months and endless inquiries and taskforces.

There are 60 State Government inquiries currently underway and more than 40 have been conducted so far.

The second inquiry into the Grantham 2011 flood which killed 12 people cost $2.5 million and raised almost as many eyebrows. Although there was not great difference in the report, many victims were grateful to have their say during this inquiry as they were not afforded it in the previous one.

While it is hard to argue against an inquiry into "live baiting" in greyhound racing or organised crime, setting them up for smoke alarm bills could indeed bring the government under fire.

Barclay White

 

QUOTES

"His name was coco, coco Kawana. Beauty and fashion was never his passion."

Former police minister Jo-Ann Miller mocked Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie over his involvement in the Newman government's push to force jailed bikies to wear pink overalls by serenading him in parliament with her own version of song Copacabana.

"I'm going to get you" and "you're a goner".

Ms Miller continued her colourful antics when she made throat slitting motions at LNP MP Tarnya Smith while at Queensland Parliament.

"That's the last time I'll ever have to talk to that pack of bastards."

No, that was not former premier Campbell Newman's bitter comments following his last stoush with Labor MPs. According to his authorised biography, he made the statement at the end of his election campaign about journalists.

"If you treat people like a mongrel dog, you'll get treated like a mongrel dog."

Retired LNP MP Vaughan Johnson had some sage words to offer his party following the landslide defeat at the polls.

"The last thing I want to say… north Queensland deserves a new stadium."

Ever the team player, Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston used his post-grand final win speech to capture the attention of attendees Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"Of concern to me… was one 'Mr Broccoli Broccoli'."

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg thought something smelled as bad as boiled broccoli when he read some of the names on a petition pushing for controversial LNP government legislation restricting community objections on mining projects to be overturned.

"I thought it was 10%" and "they want to change it"

Three radio interviews and no coffee was how Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk explained away her struggle to name the GST level during a radio quiz at election time.

"P-A-L-A-Z-A... I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be rude, I just can't..."

The same radio station later caught out then premier Campbell Newman during a quiz when he could not spell Ms Palaszczuk's last name.

"Other than growing my own veggies occasionally, that's about my most firsthand experience."

The Opposition seized on Labor's green Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson. 



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