The Queensland Labor Government’s hopes for re-election on October 31 lie in tatters after a “cruel and heartless” prank left Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk bedridden with clinical depression.
A Queensland police spokesperson said the prank, played on the Premier late yesterday afternoon, was “one of the most vindictive, destructive, cruel and heartless hoaxes ever perpetrated on a citizen of this state.
“The use of a carriage service to maliciously cause such distress and ill-health is a serious criminal offence and we’re confident the perpetrator will be caught and punished.”
But the damage has been done and with the election proper due to be called within days, senior political analysts now suspect Labor has little hope of winning a third term and four more years in office.
The Bug understands the prank involved a call purportedly made to Ms Palaszczuk in her parliamentary offices on George Street by a man claiming to be Kelvin Healey, editor of The Sunday Mail.
From the outset, the caller made his offer clear: next Sunday’s edition front page and inside election pages would be devoted to a campaign policy promise of Labor’s choosing.
He claimed this “was the only fair and right thing to do” after last Sunday’s paper (below right) was dominated by a LNP election pledge to widen the Bruce Highway to four lanes between Gympie and Cairns.
‘It’s your turn next Sunday,” the caller apparently told the Premier whom close advisers said could not stop a broad smile breaking out all over her face.
“Just give us the drop next Saturday and promise us exclusive coverage and the front of Sunday’s paper’s yours,” the caller said smoothly, “ for whatever you want to announce next Sunday to be gobbled up by all the other media on a slow-news Sunday.”
“And it will be a win-win for you because I know Chris [Jones] at The Courer-Mail will be keen to find a favourable new slant on whatever policy you want to run with. His team is as committed as mine to present a fair and balanced coverage of the election now that the campaign proper is about to begin.”
The caller even seemed keen to give the ALP political advice.
“The LNP’s highway upgrade is a really clever idea that will resonate with folk up north and will put your majority at risk just in and around Townsville alone,” he reportedly said.
“You need a bigger-ticket item that will bring all wavering Queenslanders in the regions back to the fold.
“And as I’ve already stated, The Sunday Mail as a professional, ethical and fair news organisation stands ready to help.
“Surely we all want a level playing field for the month of campaigning that lies ahead.”
The Bug understands the Premier had just mouthed “Get everyone in here” to one of her senior advisers to start work on how many jobs an eight-lane Bruce Highway would create and a rough cost of construction when the caller cruelly broke into laughter and callously shouted down the line: “Ha! Gotcha, you silly bugger!”
The Premier reportedly dissolved into tears and slumped onto her desk, burying her head in her hands before fainting dead away.
She was taken to her southside home where she remains in bed slipping in and out of consciousness and shouting “you cruel, callous chap, you!” from time to time.