By Matt Dennien
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called an abrupt end to a press conference amid questions on the state’s COVID-19 response and her party’s rules on the representation of women in state parliament.
Speaking after a community cabinet meeting in Nambour on Monday, where a new $8.3 million police station was being opened, Palaszczuk instead sought to turn focus back to the Liberal National Party’s own widely known representation issues before cutting reporters off.
Palaszczuk had been repeatedly asked whether she would support all Labor’s 52 sitting state MPs wishing to contest the 2024 state election, despite a Labor Party rule dictating that three of the 31 male members would need to make way for women to meet a 45 per cent minimum in her caucus.
“I support every single one of my MPs to contest the next election, and in winnable seats — so yes, we’ll be targeting seats off the LNP and the Greens — I would like to see a lot more women,” she said, after suggesting reporters “don’t concentrate on the LNP”.
“Our record stands on supporting women, not the LNP.” Asked again if she would back sitting male MPs in any preselection challenge ahead of 2024, Palaszczuk said she supported “all my members to run and contest at the next election — full stop”.
“Thank you, I’ve gotta go open a police station now,” she said after almost eight minutes of questions, including on COVID modelling and mask mandates, as reporters sought answers to others they wanted to ask Police Minister Mark Ryan. “No, after this ... I’ve got a community lunch.”
After bitter preselection issues plagued the federal Coalition ahead of May’s election, and look likely to follow both major parties into November’s Victorian state election, Palaszczuk appears keen to avoid an early public ventilation of similar political infighting here, with the next poll more than two years away.
But Queensland Labor rules state that women must make up at least 45 per cent of preselected candidates among each of three separate seat classifications: those held by the party, the seats that would be won with a 5 per cent increase in its two-party preferred vote, and those remaining.
If the minimum percentage is not met, “the preselections for that group of seats
shall automatically be void, and nominations for that group of seats must be reopened, and fresh
preselections must be conducted in accordance with these Rules”.
State Labor secretary Kate Flanders, who has been contacted for comment, also told News Corp that no sitting MPs would be forced to retire.
Labor endorsed 53 men and 40 women at the 2020 Queensland state election, before the minimum representation figure tightened from 40 per cent.
The LNP Opposition endorsed 67 men and 26 women. Of its 34 state MPs, 28 are men and just six are women. After 2020’s bruising election loss, leader David Crisafulli has staked his reputation on ensuring more women are preselected by branches in winnable seats.
The women’s arm of the LNP abandoned a vote on gender quotas ahead of this month’s state convention, where Queensland-based Nationals leader David Littleproud said the Coalition needed to “do way better” when it came to listening to women.
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