Annastacia Palaszczuk vehemently pushed for the season-opening Broncos vs Cowboys NRL game to proceed at the new north Queensland stadium in Townsville.
Annastacia Palaszczuk vehemently pushed for the season-opening Broncos vs Cowboys NRL game to proceed at the new north Queensland stadium in Townsville.

Premier insisted on Nth Qld stadium blockbuster going ahead

ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk vehemently pushed for last night's Broncos vs Cowboys game to proceed at the new north Queensland stadium in Townsville.

The Courier-Mail has been told high-level talks were held between senior members of the Palaszczuk Government this week and cancelling the match or stopping the crowd attending were canvassed as options.

While official advice from Queensland chief health officer Jeanette Young at that stage was that there was no need to cancel mass gatherings of people, there were concerns raised during the talks that allowing the blockbuster game to proceed would set a poor example.

NRL Round 1 kicked off at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville. Picture: Matt Taylor
NRL Round 1 kicked off at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville. Picture: Matt Taylor

However, it is understood an angry Ms Palaszczuk strongly opposed cancelling the first NRL match at the new $290 million stadium.

Such a move would blight Queensland Labor's chances in Townsville at the October 31 state election. All three of Labor's state seats in Townsville are considered to be under threat, however the party hopes the stadium will be a game-changer in regional Queensland.

The decision to proceed with the game came despite the fact sporting codes and community events were already being cancelled across the globe and in Queensland.

Asked early yesterday why the sold-out game at the new stadium was proceeding while other events were being cancelled, Ms Palaszczuk insisted there were no known coronavirus cases in north Queensland.

She said the expert advice was clear - that gatherings of more than 500 only needed to be stopped from Monday.

Ms Palaszczuk - who attended last night's game with a bevy of ministers and local MPs after attending talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other premiers in Sydney - said she would act in accordance with official guidelines from the Commonwealth authorities about mass gatherings.

Ahead of the match Sports Minster Mick de Brenni said "nothing will stop" the match proceeding.

"All of the advice from the health experts here in Queensland is that the clash between the Cowboys and Broncos, the historic clash, is going to be perfectly safe to attend," he said.

The comments came hours ahead of advice from the Federal Government to cancel gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday.


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