New Labor leader steels herself for battle ahead


Incoming Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk faces the media. Photo: Scott BeveridgeFORMER transport minister Annastacia Palaszczuk will be elected unopposed as leader of the Queensland opposition tomorrow in a Labor party caucus meeting that will have just six other members.

North Queensland Labor MP Curtis Pitt – who looks on track to retain his seat of Mulgrave – yesterday expressed interest in running for the position but Ms Palaszczuk said today he had decided not to contest the ballot.

In a press conference this afternoon at Old Parliament House Ms Palaszczuk said Saturday’s overwhelming electoral defeat had shown ‘‘the government had lost (its) way’’, a favourite line of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s.

The new opposition leader in waiting also said the reign of factions over the Labor party was coming to an end and she would like to see ‘‘doctors, nurses and rail workers’’ running as Labor candidates in the future.

‘‘Campbell Newman has made a lot of promises, he has put up there at the top of the list the cost of living, we will make sure that he keeps to these promises and we will make him accountable each and every day of this Parliament,’’ she said.

‘‘Ministers better be across their briefs because we are prepared to ask the tough questions.’’

Ms Palaszczuk said she would be leading her party through a period of soul searching where they needed to discover why ‘‘the government had stopped listening to the people and the people had stopped listening to the government’’.

The deputy opposition leader will come from regional Queensland, putting Mr Pitt as a firm favourite for the job, but Ms Palaszczuk said there was no room for factions in her party room.

‘‘Look I think the time for factions is no more,’’ she said.

‘‘We need to be united, we need to move forward and we need to put people’s interests first.’’

She said she would have discussions with Katter’s Australian Party but its issues of choice were not the Labor party’s issues.

‘‘I’m under no illusion of the task ahead. We may be small in size but we have the determination to do the right thing by Queenslanders,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s going to be an uphill battle – it’s going to be like climbing Mount Everest – but I’m sure that we can do it.

‘‘My caucus, our caucus, is prepared to do the best that we can.’’

Ms Palaszczuk was dismissive of the capabilities of the LNP team, implying the talent pool of the new government was shallow.

‘‘They have big promises and you take away Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls, there’s not much there,’’ she said.

‘‘Very few have ministerial experience and it’s a big job ahead.’’

Ms Palaszczuk said she had “complete confidence” in Labor state secretary Anthony Chisholm and a review would be conducted into the party’s election campaign strategy.

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