How do you solve a problem like Jackie?


HANDS up who has seen Jackie Trad of late? Remember her?

Short in stature, but big on power, the feisty Treasurer has been an omnipresent figure for the past five years on the Queensland political landscape.

Every step taken by the State Labor Government - as few and far between as they have been - has always had Trad's imprimatur on it.

But who has actually seen her lately?

Since her family's speculative property purchase near the route of Cross River Rail morphed into a spectacular integrity fail, Trad has all but vacated the political playing field.

The "void" she promised to fill about "her side of the story" as the scandal reached its predictable climax has only gotten bigger.

She has, of course, turned up for her obligatory duties next to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on the floor of State Parliament.

Treasurer Jackie Trad did make an appearance in Parliament this week. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Treasurer Jackie Trad did make an appearance in Parliament this week. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP


However most of those performances have lacked Trad's trademark zeal.

They've been more malcontent and malevolent than the hard-nosed focus on the numbers and the Government's economic narrative (whatever that is) that you'd expect from someone festooned with the title "Treasurer".

While Trad continues to paddle in the social media pond (or should that be cesspool?), many of her posts are met with withering criticism like, "How's the house?"

The poster child of progressive Queensland politics also seems to be fighting wars already won, like abortion reform, which might play well in certain parts of her seat of South Brisbane but aren't exactly good for the Government.

Trad's weekend Instagram post, which featured a small girl holding a "My body, my choice" petition next to a corflute of the Treasurer, made more than a few of her colleagues cringe.

It all begs the question of how long this can last.

How long can a government, one behind in the polls, beset by internal conflict and meandering around without a succinct message, continue with a deputy who has all but disappeared and no longer seems eager to act in the interests of the administration?

The Government has a whiff of late-era Anna Bligh.
The Government has a whiff of late-era Anna Bligh.

A year before the next state election, this is all starting to have a "Queensland politics circa 2011" feel to it.

However, even in the depth of its despair, despite all its many foibles and with its fate already ordained by voters, the Bligh government never behaved like this.

Then treasurer Andrew Fraser retained a laser-like focus on the government's economic message that asset sales were the right decision even though his seat was in peril.

And Kate Jones did the right thing and quit Cabinet to focus on her fight in Ashgrove even though she knew there was little hope of keeping her LNP opponent, Campbell Newman, out.

Yet despite being greatly diminished by her scandal and a veritable lighting rod for voter rage in the regions that Labor must retain, Trad has chosen to remain.

Despite being the Trojan horse who caused the criminalisation of Cabinet failures to properly disclose conflicts, she has stayed.

Was that decision made for the good of the Government or in the interests of Jackie Trad?

Whatever the case, and it's more than likely the latter, Trad has mutated from an asset to an albatross.

Then MP Rob Pyne found himself on the receiving end.
Then MP Rob Pyne found himself on the receiving end.

Her critics will claim she was always a liability, from her C-bomb imbroglio with Rob Pyne last term to her foot-in-mouth moment when she said coal workers would need to re-skill.

Yet while she must own her public persona, Trad has always been more pragmatic than her detractors would ever admit.

As many a business leader and interest group chieftain who has tried to get an answer out of the Palaszczuk would attest, Trad has always been the person that could make the elephant of administration dance.

Her means might not have always been textbook but the end game more often than not was the good of the government.

But where does this go from here?

How does the remaining year manifest for the Government while it has a second-in-command who stills seethes about her conflict scandal and, truth be told, is probably a little bit embarrassed?

Right now, the state has plenty to rightly beef with the Federal Government about, given its paltry effort on infrastructure and near non-existent response to a slowing national economy.

Then there's the mid-year review and the third and final Budget of this term to deliver.

There's also the pervading problem of unemployment which has begun tracking in the wrong direction, not a good sign for a Government with an oft-stated raison d'etre of jobs.

Trad punted Curtis Pitt from the treasurer's job arguing he couldn't sell the economic narrative.

What now, however, if she can't emerge from her self-inflicted scandal?

Despite rocky times in their relationship last term, Palaszczuk and Trad are a leadership team in lock-step with each other.

The demise of one would likely hasten the downfall of the other.

But right now they're like a battered V8 at Bathurst, behind on the last lap and trying to win without rear wheels.

Trad might not like that she'll never get to drive and that this lap will likely be her last.

But the Government will have to start asking itself whether one person's tumult should be to the detriment of them all.

The choice is simple.

Get over it or get out.

Nod to protests

WAS State Parliament Library this week sending a not-so-subtle message about the Government's controversial new protest laws?

On display outside the member's only library was all manner of lofty tomes which advocate for the right protests and argue that such movements have been a force for great good in society.

Among them was Rise of the Right: The War on Australia's Liberal Values, How to Read a Protest: The art of organising and resistance and The People vs Democracy: Why our freedom is in danger and how to save it.

Heavy hitter's poor hand

QUEENSLAND'S Productivity Commission is one again proving rather unproductive.

The $4.5 million-a-year outfit, set up by the Palaszczuk Government, formally handed over the final report of its only inquiry on August 1.

The report was on imprisonment and recidivism, not exactly an issue you'd expect such a body would be required to inquire into.

While the QPC continues to pound out plenty of quality research pieces, the question should be asked why it has not been handed more weighty economic issues to look at.

The week that was

Good week: Deb Frecklington who got the jump on the Government by introducing laws to make disclosure failures of Cabinet ministers a crime.

Bad week: Annastacia Palaszczuk who had to say sorry after becoming the first Queensland premier found guilty of contempt by the Ethics Committee.

Quote of the week: "The flipping of lids did occur" - One Nation's Stephen Andrew after he and 14 friends were busted peeking into the desks of other MPs late at night.