Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has rejected claims that she is embracing cheap populism in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the lead-up to the 31 October state election by starting work on a border wall.
Recent speculation in political circles had centred on the possibility of Ms Palaszczuk announcing stronger and longer border closures as part of her election strategy following an upsurge in coronavirus cases in Sydney and the ongoing dramatic surge in the spread of the virus in Melbourne.
But she surprised observers today by visiting the site of the first section of a steel border wall being built on the southern Gold Coast between Coolangatta in Queensland and Tweed Heads in NSW (main picture).
“I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“And I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make NSW pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
The Premier also surprisingly expanded her claimed justification for building the wall well beyond her government’s response to the pandemic.
“NSW is not going to build it, we’re going to build it. And it’s going to be a serious wall,” she said.
“It’s not going to be a toy wall like we have right now where cars and trucks drive over it loaded up with drugs and they sell the drugs in our state and then they go back and, you know, we get the drugs, they get the cash, okay, and that’s not going to happen.
“I want a strong border. I do want a wall. Walls do work, you just have to speak to the folks in Israel. Walls work if they’re properly constructed. I know how to build, believe me, I know how to build,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Political commentator Peter van Onselen said Queensland’s well-known parochialism meant voters would respond well to the Premier’s dramatic announcement and Labor was now in a strong position to retain office at the October poll.
However, political analyst Peter van Onselen said he doubted the border wall would be a factor in voters’ minds when they went to vote, especially in seats in the north of the state well away from the border so the election was still wide open.
Several other Peter van Onselens, including one with a university teaching position, were unavailable for comment.