Annastacia
Annastacia

Premier’s support plunges to same level as Bligh bloodbath

ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk is facing a rising tidal wave of Queenslanders cranky at the direction of the state with their numbers rivalling the uprising before the Bligh government was dumped from office.

As Ms Palaszczuk today celebrates five years since being sworn in as Queensland's 39th Premier, an exclusive new YouGov poll has revealed a record low number of voters believe the state is heading in the right direction.

It is just the second time since The Courier-Mail's long-running sentiment series began that voters angry at the direction of the state outnumbered those who thought Queensland was on the correct course.

The last time that positive sentiment fell behind was throughout the final 12 months of Labor's long rein in power before the party was reduced to just seven MPs in 2012.

 

 
 

 

The result will fuel further concern among Government backbenchers that the second-term administration will struggle to win the October 31 state election after a lacklustre 2019.

According to the poll of more than 1000 Queenslanders, just 31 per cent of respondents believed the state was heading in the right direction, a record low.

The number who believe the state was heading in the wrong direction was 46 per cent, compared to 50 per cent shortly before the trouble-prone Bligh administration faced its election ruination.

The result echoes similar figures in August when wrong direction overtook right direction.

The Government's fading fortunes will ensure the April 28 State Budget becomes a make-or-break blueprint for Labor although there are increasing concerns about the impact on the economy from the coronavirus.

It comes as Ms Palaszczuk and her ministerial leadership team - Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Infrastructure Minister Cameron Dick and Tourism Minister Kate Jones - spent yesterday bunkered down with union bosses about a future strategy.

 

It’s been five years since Annastacia Palaszczuk was sworn in as Premier. Picture: Adam Head
It’s been five years since Annastacia Palaszczuk was sworn in as Premier. Picture: Adam Head

 

However, economists were unsurprised the Government's past fiscal strategy had begun to fall foul of voters despite chalking up some significant results.

More than 221,000 jobs have been created over the last five years, outstripping growth in most other states.

About 121,000 of these positions were full-time.

Unemployment, based on a seasonally-adjusted figures, has fallen from 6.5 per cent to 5.7 per cent after the Government bankrolled major packages to incentivise business to take on the long-term jobless.

However, while there has been significant improvement in regional centres, the state's unemployment rate has remained well about the national average.

Exports have been a high point, with the value of the Australian dollar helping the value of Queensland's shipped products peak at $85 billion compared to $45 billion five years ago.

But areas of the domestic economy continue to struggle with the value of private sector capital investment shrinking from $10 billion to $6.2 billion in the latest data.

One of Queensland's most respected economists, Gene Tunny, said voters had been patiently waiting for the Government to steer the state to better times but it hasn't happened.

"They just don't have the capacity to stimulate the economy and that is starting to wear people out," he said.

 

Economist Gene Tunny. Picture: Supplied
Economist Gene Tunny. Picture: Supplied

 

Mr Tunny, a former Commonwealth treasury official, described Ms Palaszczuk as a "steady hand on the tiller" who had "generally provided a direction for the state".

"However, I've disagreed with a lot of things," he said.

Mr Tunny said the Government's hostility towards asset sales was a lost opportunity that was hampering its ability to invest in productive infrastructure.

"And that has meant adding to their already heavy debt bill," he said. "They haven't really had a plan but they have had some gimmicks."

The "gimmicks" include flick-passing debt onto the books of Government business and raiding superannuation and long-serving leave reserves.

General government sector debt was $43 billion in the final Newman Government budget and this fell to $32 billion in 2018-19.

However, the total debt burden is forecast to grow surpass $90 billion by 2022-23 as spending on infrastructure, including the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail, tracks back towards normal levels.

Over the past five years, the Government's annual spending has grown by $10 billion.

Two-thirds of the growth goes towards wages after a public servant hiring spree in the first term.

Revenue has grown at a similar pace but only after windfall gains for coal royalties and a series of tax hikes.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland chief economist Marcus Smith said he was concerned about the budget's ability to respond to economic problems and the coronavirus shaped as a key test.

"Going forward it is going to have an impact," he said.

While the Government's payroll tax reforms were welcome by business, Dr Smith said the waste levy hit hard.

"They gave with one hand and they took with the other," he said.


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