Meet the baby-faced assassin itching to take the fight up to Palaszczuk

David Crisafulli, the politician that seems likely to succeed the outgoing Deb Frecklington as Queensland Opposition Leader, began his political career running for local government when he was just 24, a feat that earned him the nickname The Kid.

Nov 02, 2020, updated Nov 03, 2020
Opposition leader David Crisafulli. (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Opposition leader David Crisafulli. (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled)

The scion of Italian migrant cane farmers from Ingham and former television journalist rose to become deputy mayor of Townsville City Council before winning the state seat of Mundingburra for the LNP as part of the electoral landslide that delivered power to Campbell Newman in 2012.

That win catapulted him into Cabinet as local government minister, a job that left mayors and councillors alternately charmed and enraged by his approach to the sector. Some mayors still rankle. If he does become LNP leader, he will need to do some fence-mending at council morning teas to make up for some of the jarring decisions he made when he was minister.

His long term leadership ambitions were there for all to see when he abandoned north Queensland to run for the Gold Coast seat of Broadwater at the 2017 election.

Crisafulli, 41, was one of the LNP’s better performers over the previous term, taking some bark off ministers during Estimates hearings and generally making sure he was in front of issues that resonated with both conservative electors and the party organisation.

An assiduous courter of the media and business, he was often held up by those unhappy with Frecklington’s leadership as someone who had the “cut-through” the party needed.

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Certainly, the Labor Government spent as much time trying to cut him down to size as it could and accusing him of “cutting and running” from his north Queensland base.

His nemesis, outgoing minister Kate Jones, took every chance to taunt him about his ambition, even thanking him for contributing to the domestic tourism industry by traveling around the state boosting his profile. She was at it again on election night.

When Frecklington’s internal party enemies leaked polling last June suggesting she was failing as leader, an emotional Crisafulli told the assembled media that he had never badmouthed her and would not stand against her. It was a classic political performance from an MP who, at that time, didn’t have the numbers to mount a challenge anyway.

The weekend result may have changed all that. On Saturday night, he made sure he was the first LNP figure to get in front of the cameras to talk about where the party goes from defeat. Party figures were furiously briefing journalists yesterday that Crisafulli was the only logical choice to replace a defeated Frecklington.

Saturday’s election loss looks like the opportunity The Kid has long waited for.

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