Big call the Premier will need to make next
IT'S time to consider cancelling the October state election.
While it would be highly controversial for the State Labor Government to grant itself additional time in office, there might not be much choice.
There's no indication we will be back to anything resembling a normal way of life anytime soon, and that means there won't be time for our leaders to play politics in the difficult months ahead.
A national lockdown of some description looms in the near future where schools are closed completely and everyone's movements are restricted to essential travel, like for work, food and medical supplies.
How long this will last is anybody's guess.
Given infected people take up to 14 days before they start showing symptoms of COVID-19, and they remained infectious for as long as 37 days according to some to experts, a lockdown might have to last weeks to be effective.
With a vaccine at least a year away, it is likely many social restrictions will have to continue for months after people emerge from any lockdown.
Queenslanders are already angry and stridently opposed to the local government polls and by-elections that will occur this Saturday.
They face the ludicrous proposition of being warned they must restrict their movements because of COVID-19 while being simultaneously told they will be fined if they fail to vote. It's a joke.
Just imagine how they are going to feel about queuing up to vote in just over six months if the virus remains a threat?
The state's chief health officer, Jeannette Young, insists polling stations are safe "as long as everyone follows the specific guidelines".
But if specific guidelines mean such congregations of people are OK, why aren't Bunnings sausage sizzles also going ahead this Saturday?
Even if the authorities have successfully dampened the pandemic by October, it would be wrong to expose the public to any risk and gamble on secondary spread if it can be avoided.
Queenslanders know this already.
That's why they rushed to apply for postal votes before the council polls in record numbers.
However, it would be impossible, even improper, to hold a state election via the mail.
It has never been done and it would result in tens of thousands of Queenslanders eschewing their responsibility to vote, which would raise questions about the legitimacy of the result.
There will be a slow and difficult recovery for our economy and society generally following this dreadful event.
Whatever government emerged after the election would have a job to do and we don't need it dogged by questions of validity.
While authorities have been racing to implement restrictions to stop coronavirus, at some point they are going to have to cast their minds to the months ahead.
And the one thing that looms large on the Queensland calendar is the state election.
This decision doesn't need to be made within days. However, at some point soon the Palaszczuk Government will need to set a deadline for when it must make it.
Extending the governments term by six months or even a year would be extraordinary.
But this is an extraordinary event.
Queensland is moving to four-year terms anyway after the next election, so would it really be such an abomination, such an affront to our democratic system, if we started early?
Any change to the election date would need bipartisan agreement, maybe even unanimous support of every MP in State Parliament.
But would Deb Frecklington and her LNP team really want to force Queenslanders to the polls and do they really want to try to campaign in the current environment?
If business operations remain restricted and social distancing is still being advised in the months ahead then it would be impossible for state election candidates to campaign properly anyway.
For a start, the first prospective politician caught kissing a baby may as well remove themselves from the ballot paper.
The major parties will also have problems rustling up donations in this environment and it would crass if the Government found time to recall State Parliament to pass proposed laws that will force the public to pay more for elections.
The Labor Government has a less-than-admirable record on electoral reform after changing voting laws and donation requirements to favour itself.
But if ever there was a reason for a democratically elected government to extend its term, it's surely a life-threatening pandemic.
Right now, Queensland needs a premier who is focused on the job at hand, not focused on whether she will have a job in six months.
Queensland needs a government with its attention fully trained on tackling the coronavirus, and can ill afford for politics to interfere with how it's approaching this pandemic.
We should delay the state election before it's too late.
Originally published as Big call the Premier will need to make next