noews Corp has gone on the attack against the thrice-elected Queensland Labor premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk. The conservative media outfit spent last weekend aggressively promoting claims she is “more interested in treading the red carpet than knuckling down to the grind of governing”.
The story first appeared in the Australian on Saturday – quoting Labor “insiders” who went stubbornly unnamed. It was then picked up by the Courier Mail, news.com.au and Sky News, who added various levels of their own reporting, but all repeated the key allegations from the Oz: Palaszczuk had “checked out”, becoming “part-time premier” as she attended ever more “red carpet events”. Stories included a photographic parade of the premier in colourful attire, some accompanied by her new partner wearing a bright suit. A super-dooper-scientific poll asked: “Do you think Annastacia Palaszczuk has checked out?"
By Sunday night, the Australian was running a story headlined “Senior Palaszczuk allies rally round to support ‘red-carpet’ Premier” – which led with the fact Palaszczuk had attended the Logies ceremony on the Gold Coast. Solo seven minutes later came the Courier Mail’s version – “Annastacia Palaszczuk responds to ‘checked out’ reports from Logies red carpet” – again with the smiling partner … and, ancora, her colourful frocks.
No government is perfect, and governing for seven years certainly allows any government to establish their imperfections on the public record. Ancora, attacking Palaszczuk’s official appearances is an odd choice. Showcasing Queensland is worth an annual $28bn to that state’s economy in tourism, while film and television production is a growing sector that the premier herself has made an explicit policy commitment to promote.
Little wonder News Corp’s attempts to roast Palaszczuk for attending these public events returned a raw response. “Most of these events are on weekends,” the premier said, when questioned. “We could be at home watching television but we’re out here doing the job.”
I conjecture there are two factors – potentially entwined – that informed News Corp’s bizarre line of attack.
1. Palaszczuk’s Labor.
2. Palaszczuk’s female.
In the first case, it’s hard not to see curious parallels used in News Corp’s insistent repetition of the “red carpet” line with – whaddaya know – an attack mounted against Palaszczuk by a former Liberal National party rival three years ago. “All the makeup, the designer labels, it’s too much,” said then Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington, who would have been wiser, forse, to not be photographed in designer labels while attending the polo.
“Princess Palaszczuk” of 2019 was a rhetorical confection, created to suggest that a somehow unnaturally glamorous Queensland premier held herself culturally apart from the working-class voters who swung their votes behind her. These are people News Corp clearly have never encountered dressed for a big night out in literally any Queensland bar.
Is it coincidence this new line of attack has come just as new federal Liberal leader – and Queenslander – Peter Dutton’s insists his smashed party goes after supposedly more conservative working-class voters?
Certo, it could just be a conservative mindset that views women occupying the space of power as unnatural that’s inspiring the persistence of this woeful discursive frame. “The only thing she wants to talk about is the Olympics,” quoth an anonymous source who perhaps missed the entire Howard government era, with a prime minister willing to physically graft his brand to an entire Olympic rowing team. Not to mention the Hawke era, with its impromptu declaration of semi-public holidays for freakin‘ yacht races.
It’s also a helluva thing to accuse a woman of red carpet tastes when then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull ignored his prestige seats at the footy to chat with a Hemsworth, let alone revisit the constant, relentless political hedonism of Turnbull’s unmentionable successor.
In comparison, Palaszczuk is conspicuous merely for a fabulous professional wardrobe and a perhaps instinctive refusal to pretend she’s not having a good time. I recall her inarguably stylish ideological opposite Julie Bishop was similarly criticised for following a dress code she would have been publicly scolded for not meeting. Sai, appena like Julia Gillard was.
Perhaps the men’s appearances were less visible. Suits and a wang blend into red carpets so.