Back to the future as ex-premier linked to poll push

Fraser Barton and Savannah Meacham |

Treasurer Cameron Dick will seek to slash costs in the public service to fund budget promises.
Treasurer Cameron Dick will seek to slash costs in the public service to fund budget promises.

A return to the election campaign trail by ex-premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would be welcomed by the Queensland government.

A day after urging voters to not dwell on the past, Treasurer Cameron Dick embraced the thought of the former Labor leader coming back before the October poll as he promoted his budget.

Mr Dick appeared to launch the election countdown on Tuesday when he unveiled a budget that showered Queenslanders in concessions, ensuring a $2.6 billion deficit for 2024-25.

He urged Queenslanders to look to the future and not use the October 26 election as a “referendum on the last nine years” in a nod to Ms Palaszczuk’s reign.

But asked on Wednesday if the former premier would be asked to help campaign in the election, Mr Dick said: “Of course, we’d love Annastacia to campaign for us. 

“She is a friend of mine, a very dear friend of mine and we’ve known each other for 30 years.

“She’d be more than welcome to campaign for us and we’d be honoured if she did that.”

Cameron Dick and Steven Miles
Cameron Dick and Steven Miles have been accused of handing down a budget to win votes. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

The budget marked the first under Premier Steven Miles who took over the reins after Ms Palaszczuk retired.

Mr Dick said the future was bright under the new premier after handing down his fifth budget that featured $3.8 billion in new cost-of-living relief, taking total concessions to $11.2 billion.

He called their budget a four-year plan backed by health, infrastructure and energy investment but warned it would be “all on the line” at the election.

“We’ve managed the budget well so we can deploy the balance sheet to deliver the growth that we need and we don’t want to put any of that at risk on October 26,” Mr Dick said. 

But rivals have labelled the budget an election-saving ploy to win back votes on the back of concessions.

These include a freeze on government fees and charges, $1000 off household energy bills, 20 per cent off car registration and 50-cent public transport for six months.

“Essentially everything that Labor’s announced is really short term … they’re all timed to run out just around the time that this Labor government probably will,” Greens MP Michael Berkman told reporters on Wednesday.

“The housing crisis, the cost-of-living crisis – they’re not going to just disappear next year but Labor’s pre-election sweeteners will.”

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli on Wednesday told parliament’s question time the Labor budget was about getting the government through the next four months.

He will give his budget reply speech on Thursday after being criticised for committing to its funding arrangements sight unseen.

“David Crisafulli has to turn into David Copperfield,” Mr Dick said.

“I think he’s now tripping himself up with the claims that he’s made, that I don’t think are sustainable, and I don’t think Queenslanders like being treated as mugs.”

The budget did feature some cost cutting, with a task force set to target the public service in a bid to save $3 billion over four years.