One-on-one with David Crisafulli

Recently, SMP’s Em Ruzvidzo had a one-on-one chat with David, Queensland’s Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Tourism.

David has represented the people of Broadwater in the Queensland Parliament since 2017. He was born and bred in Ingham in North Queensland, the son of sugarcane farmers and small business owners.

You’re currently the lead of the opposition in Queensland and that’s a huge responsibility. What key contributors do you think have led you to where you are today?

Honesty, and the desire to make things better for Queenslanders. The battle lines for the next election are the challenges of youth crime, health, housing, and cost of living.

For each of those, I’ve outlined our solutions and targets of what I want to achieve within the first hundred days if we’re given the privilege of governing. We’re serious about not just pointing out the problems but doing something about it.

Can you share one or two of these solutions that you have planned?

In health, we’re going to return maternity services to regional areas. We’re going to drive down ambulance ramping through things like triaging and putting doctors and nurses back in charge.

When it comes to youth crime, I want gold standard early intervention to turn young people around before a lifetime of crime. We want to rewrite the Youth Justice Act straight away and embed consequences for actions to make sure that the rights of the victim come before the rights of the offender.

Housing is the other challenge. People can’t afford to pay their rent or to get into the market. We are going to work with councils to deliver infrastructure and deliver social housing on time and on budget.

You hold a bachelor of journalism degree from James Cook University, and you’ve worked in media and transitioned into politics. Can you walk us through this journey?

I started work in my hometown, a little sugar town called Ingham in North Queensland. I worked at my local paper and studied full-time as well.

That was a really great experience to be not just learning, but putting it into practice. Then I got into television and moved to Townsville, a city about an hour south of my home.

I ended up running for a seat on the local council and that was where my interest in politics first started.

It’s a great level of government to deal with people’s issues and learn how to listen and care about people.

I did two terms on my local council and in 2012, I went into state parliament.

You describe yourself as a centrist and decentralist. What does this mean, and how does this influence your leadership style and the policies you support?

The reason I’m in politics is for people.

I’m not someone who gets carried away with the big philosophical debates. The issues I talk about aren’t about philosophical views. They’re about making sure when somebody picks up a phone that an ambo will turn up and give them the help they need.

At the moment in Queensland, our ambulance ramping is the worst in the country and there are 322 fewer police than eighteen months ago. How can we go from the lowest state homeownership rate in the country to the highest?

That’s what drives me in politics. It’s always been about people.

Can you talk us through your journey before politics and university?

I had a really blessed childhood. I have one sister and Mum and Dad taught us the value of hard work and getting up early.

My sister owns a couple of small businesses in our hometown and works really hard. I love people in small and family businesses. It just aligns with our values.

My lucky childhood was only possible because my late grandfather came to this country when he was about 40 years of age. He didn’t know a word of English or anything about where he was heading. He just knew that if he worked hard in a cane field with a cane knife he’d be able to start afresh and give his kids an opportunity. Dad left school at 13 to go onto that farm because they needed people to work on it. As a result of that, I got the opportunity to go to university and work in a different field.

What were some of the key obstacles or setbacks that you’ve encountered and how did you overcome them?

Growing up in a regional area meant less access to many of the services that people take for granted in the city.

This made me realise the importance of giving people access to world-class services no matter where they live. Growing up, I saw friends and family having to go to Brisbane to get health treatment.

I saw the challenges that come with people having to save up money to send their kids to sporting carnivals in the South. There were sacrifices to be made and I’m very grateful for people in regional areas who do that.

People in the city have huge cost pressures as well, with the amount they’re paying for rent and mortgages, the challenges of keeping food on the table and educating kids. It’s pretty tough at the moment, which is why the cost of living is one of my big focuses.

What actionable advice or tips would you have for people, particularly migrants, who want to be in politics or leadership positions in corporate Australia?

Please get involved. We are better for having people of different backgrounds involved in the political process.

I’ve gone out of my way to make sure that multicultural communities know that they matter to us.

I love what multiculturalism brings to the state. And I’m going to keep doing all I can to encourage people from multicultural backgrounds to get involved in politics.

That might be as an elected official, a member of parliament, or working in corporate Australia.

Either way, we are better if we have a difference of views, backgrounds, beliefs, genders, and ages. It makes for better decision-making.

What role do you see yourself playing to make Queensland more inclusive in terms of gender, race and age?

There’s a big role for me to play. It’s important to me. It’s important to the LNP and Queensland.

I’ve gone out of my way to make sure that the candidates we’re putting forward for the October election are from a vast array of backgrounds.

We’ve been very successful in the breadth of offering that’s coming forward.

I have a big role to play in making sure that we continue to do that because we will be a better parliament and a better state if we do.

Outside of politics, what do you do to pass the time?

I love sport. I don’t have a lot of time to play these days, but I’ve got two daughters who love sports as well. Nothing pleases me more than to sit down and watch a bit of cricket with them.

Also, I love cooking. My wife and I really enjoy making Italian meals and, from time to time, I put some of my family recipes on my social media platforms. I encourage you to go and watch them. I’ve been the beneficiary of seeing some amazing cooks. My late grandmother, my Nona, was the best cook I’ve ever seen. She could turn nothing into something very special. My mum’s a great cook. My wife’s a great cook and I try very hard and I love it.

What motivates you to keep pushing forward?

The desire for a better Queensland. I grew up in an era where this state was building things and was coming of age. I want Queenslanders to know that our best days lie ahead of us. As the Leader of the Opposition people expect me to always say what’s wrong. I like to always point out where I would do things better.

We live in an amazing place. Look outside your window and be grateful for food and family and fun and freedom. You’ve got it here. Queensland is a great place and I intend to spend the rest of my life in this state.

What or who inspires you? Who do you look up to as a role model for the work that you’re doing?

I know people are probably expecting me to say the name of a great politician or a great sportsman. But in all honesty, I get inspired by everyday people. On the weekend I was at my local school, cleaning up after a big storm came through on Christmas night and ripped through the area. There were dozens of people, lending a hand, picking up the debris so that the kids could go back to school. That’s what I love and what inspires me.

Often, I’ll speak to somebody who has migrated here and I’ll ask them about themselves. They’ll talk about themselves for about one millisecond and then they pivot and say “Oh, but my daughter is starting medicine.” or “My son’s doing engineering.” They’re so proud of their kids and in many cases, they come here so their kids get the education they weren’t given the chance to.

We’ve got an aspirational state. It’s a place where people want more for their kids and that’s what I love about Queensland. That’s what I love about the migrant story.

Want to hear more? Get the full interview here:
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