Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has won the first leaders’ debate after defending her state border closures and attacking the Liberal National Party over election costings.
Undecided voters in the audience said Ms Palaszczuk was the “clear winner” at Wednesday’s People’s Forum, according to the Courier Mail.
Ms Palaszczuk received 53 per cent of the vote, while LNP leader Deb Frecklington received 30 per cent. Seventeen per cent were undecided.
The premier used the debate to lay into LNP leader Deb Frecklington about election costings, which she has promised to release on Thursday.
“Every Queenslander needs to know tonight – how is Deb Frecklington going to pay for all of these commitments she’s been talking about during the election?” Ms Palaszczuk said.
The LNP leader shot back with a joke: “Premier, if you’re waiting to see whether you want to vote for us or not, just wait until after tomorrow.”
“That’s a definite no,” Ms Palaszczuk said, causing Ms Frecklington to chuckle.
The premier told the audience the opposition would cut public service jobs like the former Newman government.
But Ms Frecklington distanced herself from the LNP government that lost power in 2015, and in which she was a junior minister.
“Queenslanders have had their say on that government. I’m a new leader in a new team.”
The Labor leader was pressed over the border closures, with a number of audience members asking her about the issue.
She said it was too risky for Queensland to be the test case for an international travel bubble and COVID-19 would be a long-term problem.
“Everyone is concerned about it and people say to me when are we going to get past COVID,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We are not until we get a vaccine. That is the reality.
“And what we need to do is make sure that we are focused on looking after Queenslanders, supporting Queenslanders and growing jobs in Queensland.”
Ms Frecklington needled her rival about the economy, which she said was in bad shape before COVID.
The LNP said Queensland had the highest unemployment rate in the nation for four years, the lowest business confidence and the highest number of bankruptcies.
“These are shocking statistics, all because we’ve had a government that has been more focused on themselves instead of you, the Queenslander,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk hit back at the LNP leader, saying things would have been worse under a Frecklington government.
“You would have opened the borders and decimated this economy,” she said.
“We would have been like Victoria, there would be no one working.”
Ms Palaszczuk dodged a question about Labor’s support for the thermal coal industry, while the LNP sidestepped a question about maintaining a 50 per cent renewable energy target.
Neither leader could say how they would support the arts industry. They also tried to one-up each other on the number of police they would put on in Townsville.
One audience member was disqualified from voting when online viewers identified her as LNP women’s executive member Marilyn Wilson.
Another, Aiden from the Maiwar electorate, was displeased about the answers of both leaders to his question about planning laws and left the room.
The leaders will go head to head again at the Queensland Media Club debate on Friday.