PALASZCZUK ELECTION
PALASZCZUK ELECTION

Deputy Premier’s last-minute dash to secure ALP support

PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk dispatched her top lieutenant to Cairns on the eve of the election in an urgent effort to push her Far North MPs over the line.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles was on two key missions when he landed at Cairns Airport on Friday afternoon.

First, he was here to deflect any flak over borders remaining shut to Sydney and Victoria. Second, as health Minister he needed to upsell Labor's commitment to the Cairns University Hospital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk watches her deputy Steven Miles during a press conference at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk watches her deputy Steven Miles during a press conference at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled


LNP Leader Deb Frecklington scored a lot of votes when she joined the Operation 2025 campaign with $160 million to build the Cairns University Hospital upgrades.

The ball was in Labor's court to lock down bipartisanship but days and weeks passed and that big-dollar pledge never arrived.

Speaking just after his plane landed, Dr Miles said Labor had good reason to only commit to buying the required land and carrying out a preliminary business case.

Member for Barron River Craig Crawford voting at the Smithfield polling booth. Picture: Stewart McLean
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford voting at the Smithfield polling booth. Picture: Stewart McLean

"Right now we're building the $70 million mental health building … then we'll expand the ED," he said.

"While we do both things, we'll do the planning work (on the university hospital) so a decision can be made on the new building on the new site in a budget next year or the year after, probably.

"My guess is that ($160 million) would get you the first stage, but the current expenditure at Caboolture and Logan are both $400-$500 million.

"That's why I didn't want to just take a figure that hadn't been through a proper planning process."

Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington visits James Cook University's Ideas Lab at the Cairns campus to officially announce $160 million dollars in funding from the LNP to upgrade the Cairns Hospital to tertiary status in partnership with JCU, should they win the election. LNP leader Deb Frecklington, LNP candidate for Cairns Sam Marino and LNP candidate for Barron River Linda Cooper watch
Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington visits James Cook University's Ideas Lab at the Cairns campus to officially announce $160 million dollars in funding from the LNP to upgrade the Cairns Hospital to tertiary status in partnership with JCU, should they win the election. LNP leader Deb Frecklington, LNP candidate for Cairns Sam Marino and LNP candidate for Barron River Linda Cooper watch

Whether that assurance and Labor's other health pledges hold enough weight to keep Cook, Barron River, Cairns and Mulgrave red remains to be seen.

Dr Miles said he was in Cairns because the Far North was on a knife's edge.

"The election could well be decided here," he said.

"We have a two-seat majority and four seats up here.

"I'm doing everything I can to convince every last voter to stay the course with our government that's prioritised health and jobs … "

Labor has committed $500,000 of funding to upgrade Jones Park at Westcourt, should they be re elected to government at the state election. Member for Cairns Michael Healy and Cairns and District Junior Rugby League chairman Paul Callaghan at the Westcourt grounds, which could see an expansion of facilities and an upgrade to the playing fields. Picture: Brendan Radke
Labor has committed $500,000 of funding to upgrade Jones Park at Westcourt, should they be re elected to government at the state election. Member for Cairns Michael Healy and Cairns and District Junior Rugby League chairman Paul Callaghan at the Westcourt grounds, which could see an expansion of facilities and an upgrade to the playing fields. Picture: Brendan Radke

Ladbrokes shortened odds yesterday for Labor's Michael Healy to hold Cairns at $1.50 compared to LNP candidate Sam Marino on $2.20.

Mr Marino was not fazed, saying pre-polling had been "all blue" in recent days - although it would be a close one.

"If I do win, it will be historic," he said.

"I've done the work."

LNP candidate for Cairns Sam Marino hands a how to vote card to Corinne Bramwell and Bob Fitzsimon at the Queensland Electoral Commission's pre polling booth at the Cairns Showground. Picture: Brendan Radke
LNP candidate for Cairns Sam Marino hands a how to vote card to Corinne Bramwell and Bob Fitzsimon at the Queensland Electoral Commission's pre polling booth at the Cairns Showground. Picture: Brendan Radke

Labor sources confirmed the LNP had performed well last week but said there had been a late shift - and Labor did not lose a single booth for Cairns on election day in 2017.

An upset is predicted for Barron River with the LNP's Linda Cooper ($1.65) tipped to beat incumbent Labor MP Craig Crawford ($2.15).

Cook should go in Labor MP Cynthia Lui's favour ($1.80) with KAP candidate Tanika Parker taking up the tipsters' second position ($3).

LNP spokesman for Police, Counter Terrorism and Corrective Services Dan Purdle and LNP candidate for Barron River Linda Cooper have announced the opposition's domestic violence strategy, including tougher police powers. Picture: Brendan Radke
LNP spokesman for Police, Counter Terrorism and Corrective Services Dan Purdle and LNP candidate for Barron River Linda Cooper have announced the opposition's domestic violence strategy, including tougher police powers. Picture: Brendan Radke

Labor's Curtis Pitt in Mulgrave and KAP's Shane Knuth in Hill are expected to hold their seats convincingly with the bookie paying $1.10 and $1.07 respectively.

Originally published as Deputy Premier's last-minute dash to secure ALP support


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