Man the lifeboats: Crisafulli has a weakness that Labor is already trying to expose

Labor appears to be setting the groundwork for its campaign against David Crisafulli, a man who has dragged the LNP back into relevance and who poses the biggest threat to Labor’s Queensland stranglehold.

May 08, 2023, updated May 09, 2023
Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli has successfully narrowed down the political discourse to focus on the government and its failings. (Photo: AAP)

Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli has successfully narrowed down the political discourse to focus on the government and its failings. (Photo: AAP)

The next state election is still more than a year away but the engagement is already occupying the minds of the state’s politicians.

It has been clear for a while where the LNP will set its sights. Crime and health, the low-hanging fruit of politics.

Opposition leader David Crisafulli has done an admirable job by using a strategy employed successfully by Tony Abbott to focus on battering the Government on a daily basis. Abbott’s “big, new tax” has morphed in “youth crime wave” and “hospital crisis”.

He is also holding his fractious party together while continually pressuring the Palaszczuk Government on these two issues.

How long can it last? How long before the LNP’s unwillingness to fight on some of the key social and economic issues becomes the issue?

It is surely where Labor will calibrate its own attacks, unless it’s able to wheel out the ghost of Campbell Newman for another tilt. Ironically, it was Newman himself who went onto the front foot against Crisafulli with last weekend’s criticism of the Opposition Leader.

Crisafulli has hit a vein of gold in the Palaszczuk Government’s floundering in youth crime and health, but he has studiously avoided some of the tougher issues where the state’s conservative voters would probably appreciate some guidance.

Attorney General Shannon Fentiman picked up on it recently when Labor was championing the Voice to Parliament.

“It is what he always does,’’ she told Parliament.

“He did not tell Queenslanders where he would stand on voluntary assisted dying.

“He did not tell Queenslanders where he would stand on abortion. He still will not say where he stands on quotas to get women finally into parliament.”

Add to that the LNP’s strategy to pull the doona over their heads on the Voice to Parliament and significant business issues, like coal royalties, and you can see a strategy.

For the record, the LNP didn’t oppose the coal royalties hike and voted against the abortion reforms and voluntary assisted dying (although a small number crossed the floor).

Crisafulli has not yet made a decision on the Voice issue, which is a weakness Labor will exploit at some point.

There is a reason for his avoidance.

A very senior conservative politician once told me that the job of the opposition was not to actually do anything except follow the ship of Government and pick up all the people thrown overboard.

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Crisafulli is making sure that the rescue boat is full. Any issue that he speaks out on, whether it’s coal royalties or abortion, he risks losing support, but he has been able to side-step these issues because no one is holding him to account.

At the moment that is how Crisafulli has to play the politics in a party that is at best fractured in a state which is itself fractured between the south east and the regions.

If he were to come out and support the Voice to Parliament or abortion it would show a certain level of backbone, but could be disastrous for his support. The same with coal because the LNP is likely to face stiff competition for Brisbane seats, not just from Labor but also the Greens.

He doesn’t face those sorts of threats on youth crime and health. The reason those issues have never been fixed is because they are intractable. Because of that they are a happy hunting ground of oppositions.

And it’s working. It’s clever politics, something that has been missing from the LNP for a while.

He’s still a long way from a certainty to win the next election and – let’s face it –  the LNP campaigns at recent elections have been mediocre at best.

But his strategy of avoidance is clearly an area where he will face scrutiny and pressure. The Government may be clueless on a lot of issues but Labor’s campaign machine will no doubt put up an argument that Crisafulli has no backbone.





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