Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls (left), Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk One Nation leader Steve Dickson  at the forum. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls (left), Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk One Nation leader Steve Dickson at the forum. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Nicholls hands Palaszczuk a win at People's Forum

THE spectre of a One Nation-controlled cross bench in the next Parliament continued to haunt LNP leader Tim Nicholls during a heated public debate last night.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was declared the winner of the Sky/Courier-Mail People's Forum, with 60 per cent of the audience of undecided voters indicating they would vote for her after witnessing her debate Mr Nicholls and One Nation state leader Steve Dickson for more than an hour.

Mr Nicholls started strongly with an opening address pledging to make the state better.

But he came under fire as he struggled to say whether he would accept the resurgent right-wing party's support to form government should he fail to secure a majority at the November 25 poll.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk addresses the Sky News-Courier-Mail People’s Forum as Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls (left) and One Nation leader Steve Dickson look on. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk addresses the Sky News-Courier-Mail People’s Forum as Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls (left) and One Nation leader Steve Dickson look on. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP

"Yes or no," jeered the crowd as Mr Nicholls attempted to avoid directly stating his position on the issue.

"We understand people are frustrated with the major parties," he said.

"We're not going to say the will of the people shouldn't take place. We will deal with the Parliament and the elected representatives that the people put forward."

It comes amid a concerted Labor campaign to paint Mr Nicholls and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson as potential partners in the lead-up to election day.

And his position hurt, with only 12 per cent of the voters declaring they would now support him.

Just 10 per cent sided with Mr Dickson, while 18 per cent remained undecided as they left the forum.

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Ms Palaszczuk earned applause by declaring she would rather be in Opposition than take supply from One Nation.

"Sometimes you have got to stand on your principles," she said.

"If that means going into opposition, we will go into opposition."

She repeated her claim that an LNP government formed with the help of One Nation would be an "embarrassment".

Ms Palaszczuk did not escape without challenge, however. She too was put on the spot over her decision to veto Adani's application for a taxpayer-funded federal loan.

The Premier struggled to articulate why she took that step.

The audience, however, totally rejected a taxpayer-funded loan for the Indian miner.

Not one of the 100 undecided voters in the room raised their hand when asked by moderator David Speers if they supported the loan.

Fewer than 10 indicated they supported the mine in general.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and One Nation leader Steve Dickson watch as Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls addresses the audience at the Sky News-Courier-Mail People’s Forum. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and One Nation leader Steve Dickson watch as Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls addresses the audience at the Sky News-Courier-Mail People’s Forum. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Both leaders also struggled over how they would bring down debt, with neither guaranteeing they would stop the debt reaching the $81 billion predicted by 2020-21.

Mr Nicholls said he believed debt "will always be less under the LNP" but would not directly answer the question.

"I hope it doesn't (get to $81 billion) but we're not going to cut off our noses to spite our faces," he said.

"We've got to be realistic about it. What we've said is we'll maintain a balance over the economic cycle."

Ms Palaszczuk also could not say whether she would stop debt reaching the predicted $81 billion mark.

Instead, she pointed to her Government's record in the last term.

"Have a talk to Moody's," she said.

"They have looked at our economic plan and they have taken us off the negative watch."

Mr Dickson spent most of the debate deriding the major parties as he pledged to bring down power prices and scrap cross river rail.

In his closing address he challenged Mr Nicholls and Ms Palaszczuk to take a lie-detector test.

"You heard of a polygraph machine? A lie-detector test?" he asked, insisting that would be the best way to get honest answers about Adani, public service cuts and asset sales.

"They're the questions I'm sure this audience wants to see answered."



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