As unemployment rises, the government is standing between one man and a job

Mayor-in-waiting Chris Hooper will be the target of legislative amendments when Queensland Parliament resumes next week. As a result, the man known as “Pineapple” will have to reapply for his job.

Nov 19, 2020, updated Nov 19, 2020
Sportsbet has Pineapple Hooper at $3 to win the mayoralty (ABC photo).

Sportsbet has Pineapple Hooper at $3 to win the mayoralty (ABC photo).

After new labour force figures today showed unemployment rising across Australia, and 7.7 per cent in Queensland, Treasurer Cameron Dick insisted the state was performing better than other jurisdictions.

“Queensland has regained the jobs that were lost since the pandemic hit in March,” Dick said today.

“We lost 205,000 jobs and now we have put back on 206,000 jobs.”

The figures were released as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk joined other notables at Government House for the swearing-in of two MPs given jobs in her Cabinet.

When State Parliament returns next week, the Palaszczuk government will prioritise legislative amendments to overturn its controversial bid to prevent council mayors from resigning unnecessarily. The existing laws backfired, with the recent resignation of Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow putting Chris “Pineapple” Hooper, the candidate who polled a distant second at the council election, in line to automatically replace her.

Labor was worried about mayors potentially quitting to run for the Liberal National Party but will now require an election in such circumstances. New LNP leader and former deputy mayor David Crisafulli said the government previously ignored warnings from councils, the Local Government Association of Queensland and the opposition that its laws would be disruptive and undemocratic.

“As a result, Rocky residents are now going to cop the wrong end of the pineapple and that is a concern,” Crisafulli said today.

Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister Steven Miles said it was early in the term and being the mayor of a regional city was a big job. He denied Hooper was being singled out, saying the amendments would be retrospective and universally applied, and there was nothing to stop him nominating again.

“We will aim to legislate as quickly as we can so that it doesn’t advance too far, but the point remains that it is our intention to allow the people of Rockhampton to choose their new mayor,” Miles said, of what may be the city’s third election in a year.

Crisafulli was in Townsville today hoping to make amends for the LNP losing three local election contests to Labor last month. He said the LNP’s controversial youth curfew policy would be reviewed, but the LNP would not give up on Townsville and warned Labor not to take the city for granted.

Crisafulli said the LNP would applaud the government if it did the right thing by communities but at the same time present “the fiercest but most constructive opposition ever seen”.

“We’re going to reform, but we’re going to do it with grace, and poise, and will treat people with respect and a bit of humility,” he said.

Palaszczuk, meanwhile, added some niggle to her tense relationship with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, asking Queenslanders for suggestions as to what she should text her Liberal counterpart after the Maroons won the rugby league State of Origin last night.

Dick will hand down the delayed State Budget on December 1 and has foreshadowed having to borrow more, although he said it would be less than NSW’s forecast extra debt.

Palaszczuk almost showed some cross-border bipartisanship when asked about Berejiklian’s bid to change the words in the national anthem from “young and free” to “one and free,” acknowledging Aboriginal history.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” Palaszczuk said.

“I think that’s a matter for the Federal Government but I don’t have a problem with it.”

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