The man now set to lead the LNP in Queensland appeared always destined to be a star, writes Jeremy Pierce.
The man now set to lead the LNP in Queensland appeared always destined to be a star, writes Jeremy Pierce.

Early signs were clear for Crisafulli to lead LNP

"There goes the next premier of Queensland."

The words were uttered in a reverential tone by a rank-and-file LNP member, and they were talking about David Crisafulli.

Crisafulli set to become LNP leader as Mander pulls out

But it wasn't this week. It wasn't even this year. In fact, he wasn't even a sitting member of Queensland parliament.

It was May 2017 and Mr Crisafulli, a one-time rising star of the short-lived Campbell Newman government, had just beaten incumbent Broadwater MP Verity Barton for pre-selection for the northern Gold Coast seat.

The LNP wag's logic was that Mr Crisafulli would win his seat at the upcoming election (which he duly did), that the LNP would lose (which they duly did) and that Mr Crisafulli would rise from the ashes as opposition leader in time to lead the party back to the promised land at the 2020 election.

They got two out of three.

Queensland LNP member for Broadwater David Crisafulli is shaping up to become the new leader of the opposition. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Queensland LNP member for Broadwater David Crisafulli is shaping up to become the new leader of the opposition. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

In truth, they weren't the first person to earmark Mr Crisafulli as a future leader.

Born and raised in the north Queensland country town of Ingham, Mr Crisafulli was the son of local sugar cane farmers, but started his own working life as a journalist, working in both print and television as well as lecturing in journalism at university.

But a life of politics called early.

At 24, he was the youngest person ever elected to the Townsville City Council in 2004 and in the next term he was elected deputy mayor, serving in the role for four years before he contested and won the seat of Mundingburra at the 2012 Queensland election.

He was recognised as a potential star and appointed local government minister.

A victim of the 2015 bloodbath that saw the Newman government turfed after just one term, he retreated quietly into the background, moving to the northern Gold Coast suburb of Hope Island while running a consultancy firm.

The local seat of Broadwater was already held by the LNP, but sitting member Verity Barton had been plagued by a number of gaffes.

Far from the usual reaction to candidates 'parachuting' in to new seats, the LNP's Broadwater branch members quickly took to Mr Crisafulli and sensed a chance to oust Ms Barton.

The pre-selection vote was resounding and branch members were quick to congratulate Mr Crisafulli, ambitious, polished and still young enough to represent a fresh face of the party many thought had gone as stale as old bread.

After winning the Broadwater seat in the 2017 election, he was appointed the opposition's tourism spokesman.

It was not an easy assignment.

Tourism is, or at least it was before COVID, a feel-good portfolio where stories abound of increasing visitor numbers pouring billions of dollars into the state's economy.

Labor Tourism Minister Kate Jones was arguably the government's most popular performer and the industry loved her.

It was not like the health or police portfolios where constant issues make sitting ministers an easy target for the opposition.


But Mr Crisafulli worked hard.

Industry leaders were impressed with his work ethic and willingness to listen, even if he wasn't constantly in the media sniping.

He also stayed quiet on rumours that he would challenge for the LNP leadership in the lead-up to last week's election.

Until now, when in the aftermath of another election defeat he has put his hand up for a tilt at the LNP leadership.

The LNP wag from three years ago might be right after all.

 

 

Originally published as The man who would be king: How early signs were clear for Crisafulli


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