PREMIER Campbell Newman yesterday accused Opposition environment spokeswoman Jackie Trad of having a glass jaw after Leader of the House Ray Stevens caused a racism storm in State Parliament by referring to her as “Jihad Jackie”.
Ms Trad, of Catholic Lebanese heritage, said outside Parliament that Mr Stevens’ gibe was not just an insult to her but to all ethnic groups and called on him to apologise.
“This is going too far for someone in his position,” she said.
“For him to infer anyone of Lebanese extraction is somehow involved in acts of war is to attack many Queenslanders.
“And this is from a government that told voters it will be humble and govern for all Queenslanders. It was a pretty low standard for Parliament to reach.”
But Mr Newman told Parliament Ms Trad was being precious – being involved in one of the nastiest political campaigns (against him) in Australian history, but not apologising.
“If she is going to be the Opposition Leader, she is going to have to harden up,” he said.
Mr Stevens withdrew the comment after urging from Speaker Fiona Simpson, but outside Parliament remained unrepentant, saying he did not have to apologise to Ms Trad or others because his comments were not racist.
It was an own-goal for Mr Stevens, given his comment came as Mr Newman was on the attack, using an article from The Courier-Mail’s QWeekend magazine about Ms Trad to goad Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk – calling Ms Trad an opposition leader in waiting.
Mr Stevens said he was merely following up the theme of the article, which was that Mr Newman and Ms Palaszczuk should be frightened of Ms Trad.
Mr Stevens said Opposition frontbencher Tim Mulherin talked Ms Trad into complaining about the comments.
“I saw Mulherin turn around and tell her to put on the ‘I’m offended thing’,” Mr Stevens said. “There’s no racist sting to this at all. It’s about the political jihad stuff in the article.
“Goodness, Newman’s family or mother-in-law or something is Lebanese. Am I racist? Absolutely not.”
Ethnic Communities Council executive manager Ian Muil said Mr Stevens’ comment would upset people, especially in the Muslim community.
“This is dog whistle type stuff,” Mr Muil said.
“Who was he aiming it at, and what was he trying to foment with that sort of comment?
“It doesn’t do the community any good.”
Ms Trad said she was not thin-skinned, but argued it was not right for anyone, let alone community leaders, to use such language.