Fiery Premier sinks elbow into opponent
A defiant Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has come out fighting in the state election campaign's first face-to-face battle between the leaders - repeatedly attacking her opponent over costings.
An angry-looking Premier repeatedly interrupted and talked over her opponent as she demanded the LNP explain how it would pay for its promises.
Her aggressive strategy was in stark contrast to a smiling Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, whose best moment came when she accused the Premier of having no record of her own to run on.
The Premier was last night declared the winner of the Sky News/Courier-Mail leaders' debate in their first face-off this campaign, with 53 per cent of 47 undecided voters saying they would now vote Labor, compared with 30 per cent who preferred the LNP leader.
But in a microcosm of the broader campaign, there were still a high number of undecided voters - 17 per cent - yet to be won over by either leader.
Ms Palaszczuk kicked off her opening address by telling Queenslanders she'd done everything to keep them safe, later suggesting quarantine facilities were on the verge of breakdown and the state could easily find itself amid a second wave.
"You only have to look at what happened in Victoria … more than 600 people lost their lives," she said.
She told Queenslanders to "be under no illusion" because "COVID can happen at any time" without robust measures in place.
"I'm asking Queensland to stay the course, now is not the time for change," she said.
"People know me, they know me for who I am, they know my values and what you see is what you'll get through this tough time."
Ms Palaszczuk repeatedly slammed Ms Frecklington over borders, saying NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had revealed that she would have opened the borders months ago, and accusing her of wanting to let in overseas students without quarantine.
"Our hotel quarantine cannot cope at the moment," she said.
"This is another risk. Now you are putting at risk Queensland lives by saying you're going to open up the international borders, what countries are you going to open up to, tell the people." Ms Frecklington replied: "I have not said that."
But Ms Palaszczuk scored a hit on Ms Frecklington when she would not reveal how she will pay for her election promises, with the LNP's costings due out today.
"How are you going to fund all your election promises?" Ms Palaszczuk demanded. "That is the single most important question the leader of the opposition needs to answer tonight."
Ms Frecklington could not outline how, allowing Ms Palaszczuk to again claim there was a secret LNP plan to sack public servants - a claim the LNP leader said was a "Labor lie".
Pointing to the Premier's continued attacks on the former Newman government, Ms Frecklington accused her of having no record of her own to run on.
In stark contrast, Ms Frecklington didn't mention the pandemic at all in her opening speech, instead talking up her "big, bold, visionary plan" to inject $1.1 billion of stimulus in the economy by Christmas through a $300 rego rebate, build a new Bradfield Scheme and increase after-school-care places.
Bring in a human element throughout, the LNP leader talked about the "hope" she wanted to give voters to get a job, buy a house and build a family and referred to the struggles of her daughter's musician boyfriend when asked about the future of the arts industry.
"The Queensland that I want to govern, the Queensland that I want to be a premier for is all about you and your next generation," Ms Frecklington said.
"That's why I have announced the big, bold, visionary projects to get Queensland working again, so you can have a bit of hope and ambition back."
But border bans dominated the forum, with four of the eight voter questions on the topic.
Ms Frecklington seized on complaints over restrictions that had stopped people visiting family members, people in hospital, and had crushed business by arguing there had been a distinct lack of consistency, with sports stars given a free pass over people recovering from brain surgery.
"We must show compassion, we must show consistency and we must show common sense," she said.
Asked how she would handle the issue differently, she said she would ask the Chief Health Officer to make COVID-Safe plans so that people could travel across borders to funerals.
In a rare personal moment - when asked about her Government's border bans that one voter complained had prevented him from visiting a family member in a northern NSW hospital - Ms Palaszczuk revealed she had been prevented from visiting loved ones.
"Of course it's heartbreaking," she said.
"I know how hard it's been … I have an uncle who is going through treatment at the moment; no one in our family could visit him."
In another exchange over the state's sky-high unemployment rate - the highest in the country - Ms Frecklington hit out at the Government for not having a plan to create jobs.
The LNP leader said she wanted to restore Queensland to the "powerhouse" it was.
But Ms Palaszczuk cited a similarly high unemployment rate under the previous Newman government.
Originally published as Fiery Premier sinks elbow into opponent