The Adani controversy has dogged Annastacia Palaszczuk at the outset of her state election campaign, with the premier forced to contend with disruptions from mine opponents within hours of hitting the trail in regional Queensland.
An anti-Adani protester crashed a live TV interview Palaszczuk was giving from Airlie Beach in north Queensland on Monday morning, and a Labor staffer tackled the man as he brandished a sign.
Palaszczuk was separately confronted by a local woman over Labor’s support for the project. Security moved in to tell the woman she was “getting agitated” and “you’ve had your say”.
Meanwhile the man vying to replace Palaszczuk as premier, Liberal National party leader Tim Nicholls, has again had to fend off questions about how far the LNP will go to gain One Nation support if they need it to form government.
Nicholls, who was set to campaign in southeast Queensland on Monday, refused to rule out a deal to secure One Nation support to govern if the poll delivered a hung parliament. A formal preference deal between One Nation and the Liberals in the WA election hurt both parties, but the LNP maintains preferences will be a seat-by-seat proposition.
Pressed on whether his stated position extended to accepting One Nation support to guarantee budget supply, Nicholls repeated only that there would be no coalition or shared ministries.
“I have been clear about it, there is no coalition, no shared ministry and there are no deals with One Nation,” Nicholls told ABC TV.
Labor has attempted to walk a fine line on its support for Adani and Australia’s largest proposed mine, which is thought to be a vote-winner in regional Queensland but an albatross around the party’s neck in metropolitan Brisbane.
The Carmichael mine enjoys widespread support in north Queensland from those welcoming the mooted 1,000-plus jobs from the project.
However, in Airlie Beach, the Whitsundays tourism town about 100km south of Adani’s Abbot Point coal port, sentiment on the mining giant is divided.
Adani’s recent sponsorship of a local tourism awards event prompted outrage from reef operators, who see the expansion of a major carbon-emitting project as contrary to their long-term interests.
Palaszczuk, who had her election announcement speech in Brisbane on Sunday interrupted on stage by Stop Adani protester Moira Williams, told the woman confronting her in Airlie Beach: “I love the Great Barrier Reef.”
The woman replied: “Well why don’t you try to protect it, which you said you would last time you were elected?”
Palaszczuk said her government was spending $100m to improve reef water quality.
“And what are you doing to stop the likes of Adani putting eight times the legally allowable particulate in water, pre-Cyclone Debbie?” the woman said, adding Adani was fined only $12,000. Adani has since vowed to fight the fine in court.
“I’m not going to argue with you. I’ve got to go now,” Palaszczuk said.
Two men who identified themselves as security staff then stepped up to the woman, one of them saying: “I can see you’re upset.”
The woman said: “Well, people of Queensland are upset about this because they don’t want the Adani mine … everyone in Airlie Beach is against the mine.”
During an earlier live interview, Palaszczuk laughed off the intrusion of a man in a high visibility shirt who flashed across the screen behind her with an Adani sign.
“Well, there we go, there’s an Adani protester there,” she said.
Palaszczuk later said she was happy for protesters to have their say but thought some in Airlie had got “out of hand”.
“I didn’t know whether I was going to be personally tackled,” she said, qualifying this by saying she was “OK ... it’s all good”.