A modest Peter Beattie had downplayed his “pivotal” role in Annastacia Palaszczuk’s comfortable Queensland election win on Saturday.
The former Queensland Premier emerged from his Sydney home early this morning to address media via the clutter of microphones, cables, lights, photographic umbrellas and camera tripods set up permanently on his front lawn.
“I know I was roundly criticised for my frequent interventions into the Queensland campaign to explain how things would have been much better, both economically and societal wise, if Queenslanders had been lucky enough to still have me as their leader,” Mr Beattie said, flashing his famous grin.
“But here’s the rub,” he added, his entire face changing instantly to one of solemn intensity, a lightning change that has always impressed Bob Katter Jnr.
“I’ve always known deep down that Queenslanders hate outsiders telling them what to do. Constant carping from Prime Minister Morrison and NSW Premier Berejiklian was fruit for the sideboard for Annastacia and her Labor colleagues,” he said.
“In the same vein, I knew that my doing the same thing only improved her chances more because – and I know it’s hard to believe – I am an outsider myself now.
“As you all know from our daily get-togethers, I have religiously adhered to my promise when I resigned back in September 2007 to stay well clear of any political commentary or involvement.
“It was only when I heard internal party polling up in Queensland had Annastacia in very serious trouble that I thought up this clever intervention of mine that has proved pivotal in her re-election.
“In fact, I doubt very much if I would have done much better were I still Queensland’s much loved and charismatic leader.”
Mr Beattie then gave one of his famous “I’ve been a naughty boy and I need to be whipped” looks before frowning down and adding: “Can I be really serious here for a moment?
“Like the gambler in Kenny Rogers’ song, Annastacia needs to know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em and when to walk away.
“I knew when it was time to step down as Premier. I think Annastacia is also astute enough to know when it’s time to go, while your devoted people still want more of your brilliant and decisive leadership.
“For that reason and that reason alone, I’m suggesting Annastacia enjoys the first three years of this latest much-deserved four-year term that I’ve helped engineer and then steps down on 28 November 2023 to allow a good transition time for her successor.”
When a quick-witted reporter did the maths and asked Mr Beattie if a resignation on that date would leave Ms Palaszczuk one day short of his own 3385 days as Premier, Mr Beattie again flashed that disarming boyish grin of his and checked his watch.
“Goodness me,” he said, “I’m running late. I’ve got to be at the Sydney Aquarium in about a half-hour to go swimming with sharks.
“You’re all welcome to tag along and capture some vision of the event if you want to.”