Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he can’t understand why the Queensland premier launched such a savage, public attack against him.
“I am at a loss to understand why she chose to, you know, use such personal and bitter language about me. It was uncalled for, it was unnecessary, it had no basis in fact,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Townsville on Monday.
He said he won’t get into a slanging match with Annastacia Palaszczuk, who on Sunday called him arrogant, disrespectful, and a worse prime minister than Tony Abbott.
The premier said her frustration started to mount after Cyclone Debbie and reached a tipping point during a recent slanging match with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce over Category C disaster relief funding.
She also pointed to the lack of respect she says Mr Turnbull showed, when he flew to Queensland recently for a major gas announcement, without bothering to tell her.
Mr Turnbull told reporters her comments left him confused, especially after the joint effort to help people after the cyclone.
“The remarks she made are so incongruous or hard to understand or explain,” he said.
“They come barely a month after she thanked the federal government … for the unprecedented co-operation between the federal government and the state government agencies for tropical cyclone Debbie.”‘
Mr Turnbull also pointed out that his government was shouldering 75 per cent of the costs associated with the natural disaster.
“I am not going to let personal attacks like that get in the way of my or my government’s commitment to the people of Queensland,” the prime minister said.
The federal government was investing billions in infrastructure across the state, including $100 million towards a new sports stadium for the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville, he said.
Construction and mining company Watpac will build the new stadium, with the Queensland government contributing $140 million.