Annastacia Palaszczuk

Annastacia Palaszczuk (/ˈpæləʃ/ (About this soundlisten), Polish: Annastacia Pałaszczuk, [pa'waʂt͡ʂuk];[1] born 25 July 1969) is an Australian politician who has been the Premier of Queensland since 2015 and the Leader of the Labor Party in Queensland since 2012. She was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland for the seat of Inala at the 2006 election.


Annastacia Palaszczuk

Annastacia Palaszczuk 2016.jpg
39th Premier of Queensland
Elections: 2015, 2017, 2020
Assumed office
14 February 2015
MonarchElizabeth II
GovernorPaul de Jersey
DeputyJackie Trad
Steven Miles
Preceded byCampbell Newman
Leader of the Labor Party in Queensland
Assumed office
28 March 2012
DeputyTim Mulherin
Jackie Trad
Steven Miles
Preceded byAnna Bligh
Leader of the Opposition in Queensland
In office
28 March 2012 – 14 February 2015
PremierCampbell Newman
DeputyTim Mulherin
Preceded byJeff Seeney
Succeeded byLawrence Springborg
Minister for Transport
In office
21 February 2011 – 26 March 2012
PremierAnna Bligh
Preceded byRachel Nolan
Succeeded byScott Emerson
Minister for Multicultural Affairs
In office
26 March 2009 – 26 March 2012
PremierAnna Bligh
Preceded byLindy Nelson-Carr
Succeeded byJack Dempsey
Minister for Disability Services
In office
26 March 2009 – 21 February 2011
PremierAnna Bligh
Preceded byLindy Nelson-Carr
Succeeded byCurtis Pitt
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Inala
Assumed office
9 September 2006
Preceded byHenry Palaszczuk
Personal details
Born (1969-07-25) 25 July 1969 (age 51)
Durack, Queensland
Political partyLabor
Spouse(s)
  • (m. 1996; div. 1998)
  • Simon Every
    (m. 2004; div. 2009)
MotherLorelle Palaszczuk
FatherHenry Palaszczuk
Education
Alma mater
OccupationPolicy adviser
ProfessionSolicitor
Politician
CabinetPalaszczuk Ministry

Palaszczuk was a political adviser and lawyer before her election to the Legislative Assembly, succeeding her father Henry Palaszczuk in the seat of Inala. She held several roles in the Bligh Government from 2009 to 2012, when Queensland Labor suffered a historic defeat. One of only seven remaining Labor Assembly Members, Palaszczuk was elected unopposed as the Leader of Queensland Labor, becoming Leader of the Opposition. Despite Labor's heavy loss in 2012, Palaszczuk led Labor to victory at the 2015 election, becoming the first woman in Australian history to become a state premier from opposition. Her first ministry was majority female, also a first in Australia.[2] She led Labor to further victories at the 2017 and 2020 elections, making her the first Australian female Premier to win three terms in Government.[3]

Early life and education

Palaszczuk was raised in the Brisbane suburb of Durack. Her father, veteran state Labor MP Henry Pałaszczuk, was born in Germany to Polish parents.[4] Her Australian mother, Lorelle, is descended from German settlers.[5] She attended St Mary's College, Ipswich from 1982 to 1986.[6] She has degrees in Arts and Laws from the University of Queensland, a Masters of Arts from the University of London (where she was a Chevening Scholar), and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from Australian National University.[7]

Political career

Palaszczuk worked as a policy adviser to a number of Labor ministers, including Minister for Communities, Disabilities and Seniors, Warren Pitt and former Minister for the Environment, Dean Wells.[8] She later decided to have a career in the legal profession and was studying for admission as a solicitor when her father announced his intention to retire at the 2006 election.

State Minister

In the wake of her father's retirement, Palaszczuk contested and won Labor preselection for his seat of Inala in south-west Brisbane, the safest Labor seat in Queensland, and was elected with a margin of more than 30 points.

On 9 October 2008, Palaszczuk was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Main Roads and Local Government in the wake of Ronan Lee's defection to the Greens. Just over five months later, she was appointed Minister for Disability Services and Multicultural Affairs in the Bligh ministry following the 2009 election.[9] In February 2011, she was promoted to Minister for Transport and Multicultural Affairs.[10]

Leader of the Opposition

At the 2012 election, the Bligh government was overwhelmingly defeated by the Liberal National Party led by Campbell Newman, losing 44 seats. Palaszczuk suffered a 14-point swing in Inala, but retained her seat with a 46.2 per cent primary vote and a 56.9 per cent two-party vote.[11]

The day after the election, Bligh resigned as premier and party leader and retired from politics. Palaszczuk, as one of only three surviving members of Bligh's cabinet, announced that she would be a candidate to succeed Bligh.[12] Curtis Pitt initially said he would stand, but withdrew. This left Palaszczuk to take the leadership unopposed at a meeting of the Labor Caucus on 28 March in Ipswich. Bligh did not attend the meeting. Tim Mulherin was elected Deputy Leader, also unopposed.[13]

Palaszczuk faced the task of rebuilding a party which had just suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government in Queensland history, and amongst the worst that a governing party has ever suffered at the state level in Australia. She also faced the difficulty of leading an opposition caucus of only seven members, two short of official status (though Newman subsequently promised that Labor would have the full rights and resources entitled to the official opposition).[14] After taking the leadership, Palaszczuk said, "We need to make ourselves relevant to voters. We need to get back to our basics. Workers' rights, protecting the environment, investment in education—these are core Labor principles and somewhere along the way we simply lost our way." She also said, "I'm under no illusion of the task ahead, of the rebuild that we need to do and the fact that we need to restore people's faith in the Queensland Labor Party".[15]

Following her election, Palaszczuk apologised for "breaching the trust of Queenslanders", a reference to the Bligh government's decision to sell off state assets after promising not to do so at the 2009 election. This decision had been "poorly communicated to the community", she said, "There were other issues, but that is the single point where we lost faith with the community. For that I apologise." Palaszczuk defended the decision itself, saying it was made to save jobs across the state, but conceded that the Government should have been more open more quickly regarding the policy.[13]

On 29 March 2012, Palaszczuk announced that she would support the state parliamentary term being extended to four years, as is the case in the other Australian states. Newman indicated he supported the move as well.[14]

2015 election

During her time as opposition leader, Palaszczuk closed the 2-party gap between Labor and the LNP, and on several occasions outpolled Newman as preferred premier.[16] Despite this, most commentators gave Labor little chance of winning the 2015 state election. Labor needed a 36-seat swing to make Palaszczuk Queensland's second female premier and Australia's first female premier elected from opposition—a task thought nearly impossible given that the party only went into the election with nine seats (having won two seats from the LNP in by-elections).

However, in a result that surprised even the most optimistic Labor observers, Labor won a 12-point swing, and projections on election night saw the party very close to winning a majority government. Depending on the source, Labor was either two or three seats short of outright victory.[17][18] Labor also ousted Newman in his own seat, something that had only happened to a sitting Premier once before in Queensland's history.[18] The final result saw 44 Labor seats and 42 LNP seats. The balance of power rested with the lone independent in the chamber, Peter Wellington, and the two MPs from Katter's Australian Party. On 5 February, Wellington announced his support for a Labor government under Palaszczuk, giving Labor 45 of 89 seats, a parliamentary majority of one.[19] Palaszczuk herself reverted Inala to its previous status as a comfortably safe Labor seat, scoring an 18-point swing to increase her majority to 25 percent, the second-safest in the state.

Premier

On 9 February 2015, with projections showing Labor assured of at least a minority government, Palaszczuk said she intended to meet with Governor Paul de Jersey on 11 February and advise him that she could form a government.[20] Hours after the results were declared, de Jersey formally invited Palaszczuk to form a government.[21] She was sworn in on 14 February 2015.[22] It was only the seventh change of government in Queensland since 1915.

2017 election

Palaszczuk led Labor into the 2017 Queensland state election in hopes of winning a second term. Polls suggested the race would be close.

The result was not known for almost two weeks. Eleven days after the election, ABC election analyst Antony Green's election computer indicated that the incumbent Labor minority government had won at least 47 of the 93 seats in the expanded Legislative Assembly, enough to form a majority government.[23][24][25] Labor ultimately won 48 seats, a net four-seat swing in its favour, allowing it to form government in its own right by two seats.

2020 election

Palaszczuk led Queensland Labor to the 2020 election and was challenged by the LNP opposition led by Deb Frecklington.

Palaszczuk entered the 2020 election in a strong position, and was immensely popular amongst Queenslanders and voters, with her approval rating often soaring above 60%. In contrast, the LNP leader Deb Frecklington became increasingly unpopular amongst voters, trailing Palaszczuk as preferred premier by around 20 points and suffering negative net approval ratings.

In order to divert voters from Frecklington’s unpopularity, LNP aired many negative ads including unpopular former Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, labelling her as ‘Dodgy Jackie’ and claiming she would become premier in a leadership spill if Labor were to win the election.[26] Labor’s campaign exploited Frecklington’s unpopularity and claimed her government would echo the fairly unpopular Newman Government.[27]

Although LNP’s campaign was successful in unseating Jackie Trad in her seat of South Brisbane, it ultimately failed to sway voters for a new premier, with Labor picking up four seats; winning 52, with LNP winning just 34, a net loss of five. Palaszczuk declared victory on the night of the election, with Frecklington conceding and resigning from leadership the next day. [28][29]

Tenure

Initially, Palaszczuk had herself, deputy leader Jackie Trad, and Curtis Pitt sworn in as an interim three-person government.[30][31] The full ministry was sworn in on 16 February 2015,[32][33] with Palaszczuk taking on the Arts portfolio alongside her Premiership.

Shortly after taking government, Labor MP Billy Gordon was forced to resign from the party by Palaszczuk due to an undeclared criminal history. She requested he quit parliament however he refused and sat as an independent.[34]

Public service

During Palaszczuk’s 2015 election campaign, she made public servants and stopping cuts to public service a key priority.[35]

Budgets released by the Labor government has generally increased funding and have been well received in terms of health and education, however budget focus on public servants and unemployment have received mixed reviews.[36][37][38]

The Palaszczuk government prioritised public servant job creation during her first term of government. Over her two terms of government, the public service has gained 30 000 workers, a larger growth rate than the population.[39]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Palaszczuk announced and passed legislation for a public servant wage freeze to start from the beginning of the financial year, with Palaszczuk claiming it was necessary for future job security and creation. The Greens and LNP opposed the freeze, with Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander declaring the situation a ‘debacle.[40]

Electoral reforms

Successful amendments to the electoral act through legislation and referenda in early 2016 included: adding an additional four parliamentary seats from 89 to 93, changing from optional preferential voting to full-preferential voting, and moving from unfixed three-year terms to fixed four-year terms.[41]

Climate change and environment

Some of Palaszczuk’s early environmental achievements include a ban on single use plastic bags and the implementation of a container refunding recycling scheme, with support from the LNP opposition.[42]

In May 2018, after achieving a parliamentary majority, Palaszczuk passed legislation for a suite of new laws on land clearing restriction, with its deforestation rate being the worst in the country. The debate was supposedly so heated that debate was extended to 10:30PM in order for extra time to debate the legislation. Local environmental groups praised the legislation, whilst agriculture businesses protested outside the Queensland Parliament opposing the land-clearing laws.[43]

Palaszczuk launched Labor’s climate change plan to achieve 50% renewables by 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2050.[44]

Social policy

Palaszczuk herself has been described as a ‘progressive’ by herself and media outlets in terms of social issues. On May 11, 2017, the Queensland Parliament made an official apology to the people who were convicted of homosexual offences during its period of criminalisation.[45] She supports same-sex marriage and campaigned for the ‘yes’ vote during the national plebiscite.[46] Palaszczuk supported and helped pass legislation in August 2020 that would ban gay conversion therapy, which would see health practitioners who attempt the practice jailed up to 18 months.[47]

In October 2018 the Parliament passed the Termination of Pregnancy Act, which would legalise abortions up to 22 weeks of gestation and establish 150 metre safe zones around abortion clinics.[48]

During the 2020 election campaign, Palaszczuk announced her government would legalise euthanasia by February 2021, in spite of opposition from the LNP. Many claimed that Palaszczuk’s approach to the issue was simply to gain votes from marginal seats, which Palaszczuk denied.[49][50]

Carmichael coal mine

Palaszczuk has been the subject of controversy from local environmental groups for supporting the Carmichael coal mine.[51]

The mine has come to significant controversy due to its potential environmental damage, its fueling of climate change and the supposed violation of Aboriginal land rights. Opposition to the coal mine led to the creation of the grassroots campaign by GreenpeaceStop Adani.’[52]

Before the 2019 federal election, Palaszczuk was accused by both environmentalists and the coal mining industry of stalling the process of approval. This led to anti-Labor sentiment from Adani, as shown by their large donation to the LNP. Ultimately the federal election saw a large swing away from Labor in Queensland, which sparked speculation that Palaszczuk could lose government in the next election.[51]

Palaszczuk signed off on subsidies in late 2019 to cover a 7-year royalty holiday, rehabilitation, corporate tax shields and 22 billion annual litres of water use, valued at $4.4 billion. Palaszczuk also signed off on a deal for Adani to defer royalty payments for an unspecified amount of time on October 2020, sparking criticism from the Greens.[53]

COVID-19 pandemic

Queensland detected its first positive case of COVID-19 on January 28, 2020.[54] A day later, Palaszczuk declared a public health emergency.[55] The state recorded its first death from the virus on March 13.[56]

Palaszczuk announced lockdown measures and state border closures from March 23, as confirmed cases follow the worldwide trend of skyrocketing. Non-essential services were banned from operating, and schools and universities shut down.[57][58] As ‘the curve’ began to flatten, Palaszczuk proceeded to gradually ease restrictions from late April, with Queensland easing most coronavirus restrictions by July. [56]

The most controversial part of the pandemic restrictions were state border closures.[59] After being lifted to all bar Victoria on July,[60] the border was shut to NSW and ACT again on early August after a small spike in cases in these areas.[61] The state border closures met prominent criticism from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, particularly after a Canberra woman was denied entry into Queensland to attend her father’s funeral.[62][63] Borders were gradually lifted as cases began to ease in NSW and Victoria, until full border openings to the states on December 1.[64]

Despite the state border closures, Palaszczuk recorded high approval ratings amongst voters, recording 65% satisfaction on one Newspoll.  

Personal life

Palaszczuk was married to journalist George Megalogenis from 1996 to 1998, and to Simon Every, who was then Senator Joe Ludwig's chief of staff, from 2004 to 2009.[65] From 2015 to 2018, her partner was Shaun Drabsch, an infrastructure adviser. During the 2017 Queensland election, Drabsch was alleged to have a conflict of interest over Adani Group's Carmichael coal mine.[66][67] Palaszczuk and Drabsch split "amicably" in February 2018.[68]

See also

References

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External links

Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
Henry Palaszczuk
Member for Inala
2006–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Lindy Nelson-Carr
Minister for Disability Services
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Curtis Pitt
Minister for Multicultural Affairs
2009–2012
Succeeded by
Jack Dempsey
Preceded by
Rachel Nolan
Minister for Transport
2011–2012
Succeeded by
Scott Emerson
Preceded by
Jeff Seeney
Leader of the Opposition in Queensland
2012–2015
Succeeded by
Lawrence Springborg
Preceded by
Campbell Newman
Premier of Queensland
2015–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Anna Bligh
Leader of the Labor Party in Queensland
2012–present
Incumbent