An unedifying spat about being a wife and mother has framed an historic state election where for the first time ever both major party leaders are women.
Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia is the favourite to be re-elected on Saturday as coastal retirees worried about coronavirus backed her state border closure
Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia is the favourite to be re-elected on Saturday as coastal retirees worried about coronavirus backed the ALP’s state border closure, despite New South Wales recording just four new cases on Friday.
Before COVID-19 came to Australia, Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington caused uproar when she told a Sunday newspaper being married made her more grounded than her opponent.
Unlike 51-year-old Ms Palaszczuk, who is twice divorced with no children, Ms Frecklington is a married mother and has been campaigning for a hardline curfew on teenagers.
The 49-year-old former solicitor and law firm partner from Kingaroy, north of Brisbane, and her husband Jason have three daughters: Isabella, Elke and and Lucy.
Drawing a contrast with Ms Palaszczuk, who is single again, Ms Frecklington told News Corp in December 2019: ‘I have no choice but to remain grounded, because of Jason and the girls.
‘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.’
The comment was widely seen by commentators as an attempt to paint Ms Palaszczuk as a out of touch because she didn’t have children.
Macquarie University gender studies expert Professor Catharine Lumby said Ms Freckington’s comments showed women can also be sexist towards other women.
‘It’s surprising coming from a woman, actually, that’s what disappoints me,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I’m profoundly disappointed she would make a comment like that.
‘It’s not just men who can trade in stereotypes – a woman’s marital status or whether she has children or doesn’t have children.
Unlike 51-year-old Ms Palaszczuk, who is twice divorced with no children, LNP leader Deb Frecklington is a married mother with three daughters Isabella, Elke and Lucy. The former solicitor made that point in a newspaper interview
Macquarie University gender studies expert Professor Catharine Lumby said Ms Freckington’s comments showed women can also be sexist towards other women
‘We never judge men on the basis of whether they’re married or have kids or things like that, it doesn’t even come up.’
Why the Premier couldn’t have children
Making matters more insulting Ms Palaszczuk suffered endometriosis and was unable to have children, despite multiple attempts during her thirties.
Why Labor is the favourite to be re-elected
A Queensland Labor insider told Daily Mail Australia coastal retirees worried about COVID-19 could help the ALP pick up the ultra-marginal LNP seat of Pumicestone, covering Bribie Island, and the neighbouring Sunshine Coast electorate of Caloundra
This would offset the loss of one or two seats in Townsville, where the LNP campaigned for a teen curfew to tackle youth crime
Veteran election analyst Malcolm Mackerras tipping Labor having 48 seats out of 93 on Saturday
Former Labor deputy premier Jackie Trad tipped to lose South Brisbane to the Greens
Even if Labor lost all three Townsville seats and gained nothing else, it could still form a minority government with two Greens MPs and Noosa climate change independent Sandy Bolton
She was previously married to Sydney Morning Herald political journalist and commentator George Megalogenis.
They met in Canberra during the early 1990s when she was an adviser to Keating government minister David Beddall but her two-year marriage to Megalogenis, then a press gallery reporter with the Herald Sun, ended in 1998.
Ms Palaszczuk tried fruitlessly to have a child, via IVF, with her second husband Simon Every, a former Labor staffer, when she was 36 – only to suffer a miscarriage.
‘I can’t believe I actually did any of my jobs because it was completely draining,’ the Premier told the Australian Women’s Weekly in June 2017 as she campaigned for a second term.
Her second marriage ended in 2009, the year she became a minister after three years in Parliament and previous stints as a media adviser to state Labor ministers Tony McGrady and Dean Wells.
Why Labor is the favourite to be re-elected
Labor is the favourite to be narrowly re-elected, which would make Ms Palaszczuk the first Queensland premier to win a third, consecutive term since Peter Beattie in 2004.
A Labor election win on Saturday would cement Ms Palaszczuk’s place as Australia’s most politically successful female leader.
Veteran election analyst Malcolm Mackerras is expecting Labor to win 48 seats in the 93-member Queensland Parliament – the same bare majority it won in November 2017.
Ms Palaszczuk’s former deputy Jackie Trad, from Labor’s dominant Left faction, is tipped to lose her cosmopolitan seat of South Brisbane to the Greens, following some political scandals, which would see the hard-left minor party have two MPs.
Making matters more insulting Ms Palaszczuk has endometriosis, which means was unable to have children, despite multiple attempts during her thirties
A Queensland Labor insider, however, told Daily Mail Australia the ALP was likely to have 48 seats for a majority in its own right.
The party activist predicted the ALP would lose one seat in Townsville but gain the marginal LNP-held Sunshine Coast seat of Caloundra as retirees worried about COVID-19 helped Labor win a seat it had never held before.
Labor was expected to also gain the neighbouring ultra-marginal LNP-held seat of Pumicestone, which covers the retiree haven of Bribie Island, where Sydney KIIS-FM radio star Kyle Sandilands grew up.
The ALP however is still vulnerable in three marginal seats in Townsville, including Mundingburra where minister Coralee O’Rourke is retiring, neighbouring Thuringowa and the city centre electorate of Townsville.
Even if the Opposition won three new seats in Townsville, the LNP isn’t faring so well in Brisbane and would be unlikely to cobble together a power-sharing arrangement with the three Katter’s Australian Party MPs and One Nation.
In a worse case scenario for Labor, it could still form a minority government with the Greens and possibly Noosa independent and climate change-focused MP Sandy Bolton.
Ms Frecklington wants to introduce a $250 fine on parents if teenagers 17 and under are outside after 10pm. The LNP is hoping to pick up three seats in Townsville from Labor. She is pictured with Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) and the federal Liberal MP for Herbert Phillip Thompson
Queensland will be Australia’s first state to go to an election during the coronavirus pandemic, following polls in the NT and the ACT in 2020.
Australian female leaders in government
Rosemary Follett, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Terrritory: May 1989 to December 1989; June 1991 to March 1995
Carmen Lawrence, Premier of Western Australia: February 1990 to February 1993
Joan Kirner, Premier of Victoria: August 1990 to October 1992
Kate Carnell, Chief Minister of the ACT: March 1995 to October 2000
Clare Martin, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory: August 2001 to November 2007
Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland: September 2007 to March 2012
Kristina Keneally, Premier of New South Wales: December 2009 to March 2011
Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia: June 2010 to June 2013
Lara Giddings, Premier of Tasmania: January 2011 to March 2014
Katy Gallagher, Chief Minister of the ACT: May 2011 to December 2014
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland: February 2015 to present
Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of NSW: January 2017 to present
Ms Palaszczuk’s decision to keep Queensland closed to all of New South Wales, except for a few regions in the state’s north near the border, has proven popular with voters, especially the elderly ones who don’t normally vote Labor.
Apart from slamming the Premier over an earlier ban on ACT, Ms Frecklington has broadly supported keeping Queensland closed to most of NSW in a bid to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
How Annastacia became Premier
In March 2012, Ms Palaszczuk became Queensland Labor leader after her boss Anna Bligh was defeated in a landslide at the hands of LNP leader and former Brisbane lord mayor Campbell Newman.
Voters were furious at Labor for privatisating freight rail company, QR National.
In that election, Ms Palaszczuk held on to her multicultural southern Brisbane seat of Inala, which had been one of Labor’s safest and was previously held by her father Henry Palaszczuk, a former state government minister.
Former barrister Cameron Dick had been the favourite to take over as Labor leader but he had lost his inner-city seat of Greenslopes, making Ms Palaszczuk the only viable contender from the party’s Right faction, which then had the numbers in the party.
Ms Palaszczuk led a team of just seven Labor MPs, versus 78 for the new LNP government which had the biggest landslide ever seen in Australia.
Despite those overwhelming odds, she managed to become Premier in February 2015 after the one-term Newman government slashed the public service and fought with doctors and lawyers.
Ms Frecklington, who was a junior minister in the previous LNP government, late last year described her opponent as ‘Princess Palaszczuk’ for wearing designer clothing.
‘She has deliberately changed her image — the whole ‘Princess Palaszczuk’ is pretty obvious — but I haven’t changed mine,’ she said.
Ms Frecklington is now the fourth leader Ms Palaszczuk has stared down, following an LNP revolving door that has included Mr Newman, Lawrence Springborg and Tim Nicholls. The LNP leader is pictured on her wedding day with her husband Jason
Ms Frecklington is now the fourth leader Ms Palaszczuk has stared down, following an LNP revolving door that has included Mr Newman, Lawrence Springborg and Tim Nicholls.
The LNP leader has campaigned for a curfew, proposing a $250 fine on parents if their children aged up to 17 are outside after 10pm. Kids under 15 would have to be inside by 8pm.
This controversial policy may well prove popular in three marginal Labor-held seats in Townsville where crime is more of an issue but would be unlikely to see the LNP pick up seats in Brisbane.
Making history in Queensland
Saturday’s Halloween Queensland election will also be Australia’s first state poll where both major party leaders are women.
The contest will also be Australia’s first all-female competition since February 1995, when Canberra Liberal leader Kate Carnell defeated the Australian Capital Territory’s Labor chief minister Rosemary Follett – the first woman to lead an Australian government.
New Zealand has had two elections where both leaders were women: 1999 when Labour’s Helen Clark defeated National Party prime minister Jenny Shipley – the first woman to be Kiwi PM; and October 2020, when Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern overwhelmingly beat National Party Opposition Leader Judith Collins.
Saturday’s Halloween Queensland election will also be Australia’s first state poll where both major party leaders are women. This month’s New Zealand election was the second Kiwi contest with two female leaders. Pictured is PM Jacinda Ardern debating National Party leader Judith Collins on September 22, 2020
The Northern Territory had two female leaders between 2005 and January 2008 when Labor chief minister Clare Martin faced off against Country Liberal Party leader Jodeen Carney but they didn’t go head-to-head in an election.
NSW has had two women since June 2019 when Labor Party rank-and-file members chose former TV newsreader Jodi McKay to take on Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian – the first conservative female premier to win an election.
Queensland was where Ms Bligh in 2009 became the first female premier to win an election and where Ms Palaszczuk in 2015 became the first woman to win from Opposition at a state level.
Australia’s first state election with two female leaders will be occurring 91 years after teacher Irene Longman made history in 1929 as the first woman elected to the Queensland Parliament.
Professor Lumby said successful female leaders had demonstrated they could be both decisive and emphatic.
‘Without wanting to stereotype by gender, one of the things about having women in the mix of leadership is it may mean we’re rethinking the qualities we look for in leaders,’ she said.