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When she did finally take over the top job in September 2007, Ms Bligh was left with several pieces of unfinished business from the Beattie era. These included having to bed down the controversial council amalgamations, finish building the water grid conceived at the height of the drought (thereby pushing up household water prices), and tackle persistent problems with Queensland Health. But Ms Bligh, Queensland's first female premier, also quickly sought to differentiate herself from her mentor. It came in the form of fluoride. While Mr Beattie had offered rebates to councils that chose to fluoridate their waters supplies, Ms Bligh went the whole hog and decided to do it herself. The state government was determined to push ahead with its contentious Traveston Crossing Dam, branded a "travesty" by environmentalists and Gympie region locals but defended by Ms juliet oakley quadrado Bligh as an important step to secure southeast Queensland's water security. However, it wasn't to be. Federal environment minister Peter Garrett would later, in November 2009, reject the project under federal environmental assessment laws because of the "unacceptable impact" it would have on threatened species, including the Mary River turtle and Australian lungfish. Another, different type of threat loomed on the horizon in the lead up to the March 2009 state election. The global financial crisis was battering state finances, eroding GST and other revenue sources, and triggering unemployment fears. The government's December 2008 budget update pushed up land taxes and vehicle registration fees, to help plug a $4.3 billion revenue hole over the following four years. Another budget update just a few months later showed the state's finances had deteriorated even further and would sink into deficit, prompting Standard and Poor's to downgrade the state's credit rating from AAA to AA+ and thereby push up interest payments the government would have to pay on its borrowings. Ms Bligh used the report as a trigger for an early election in March 2009, telling the public the downgrade and deficit occurred because the government refused to take an axe to the jobs supporting infrastructure building program. Her re election pitch was based around "jobs not cuts", and she seized on then Liberal National Party leader Lawrence Springborg's proposed efficiency dividend to claim he would sack thousands of public servants. Ms Bligh's ultimate victory making her the first elected female premier in Australia despite a 4 per cent state wide swing against Labor was a night of jubilation for the former Gold Coaster: "Queenslanders, you can count on me," she declared in her victory speech. But her popularity with the public was eroded months later when, in the June budget, the Bligh government decided to scrap the 8 a litre fuel subsidy (despite promising it was safe) and pursue a suite of asset sales to raise some $15 billion to go towards debt repayment. The privatisation of the Queensland Motorways tolling business, Queensland Rail's coal haulage business and freight network, the Port of Brisbane, Forestry Plantations Queensland and the Abbott Point Coal Terminal would save the budget from "being dragged down by these big commercial assets that need massive investment in order to grow and keep servicing their commercial customers", Ms Bligh said. The Bligh government would soon have to turn its attention to another issue that eroded public trust. The activation of a new payroll system for Queensland Health employees in March 2010 was a disaster. The bungle meant thousands of doctors, nurses and other health workers were paid too little, too much, or nothing at all. The problems persisted for months. Then deputy premier Paul Lucas, who was appointed to the health portfolio straight after the 2009 election as a sign of how seriously Ms Bligh took health, was dogged by the issue. Auditor General loja que vende oakley juliet Glenn Poole identified a litany of problems with the health payroll project, including confusion over roles and responsibilities, delays, and a lack of proper usability testing. He also concluded the system was switched on without a proper understanding of the potential risks to the effective operation of the payroll system. Ms Bligh stood by her loyal deputy, saying Mr Lucas's ministerial responsibility was to fix the system. Ms Bligh continued to defend herself as a leader prepared to make the tough decisions necessary for the state. But with poor opinion polling persisting despite a pledge to "redouble" the government's efforts and go on a listening tour, Ms Bligh found it necessary to declare to her colleagues that she would not to let the "NSW disease" of revolving door leadership come to Queensland just because the going had gotten tough. Labor also suffered significant losses at the 2010 federal election in the Sunshine State. And then, in early 2011, Queenslanders got to see their premier in a different light, as regions faced their worst flooding in years. The year began with the devastation of the summer floods, including loss of life in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, and the widespread inundation of Brisbane and Ipswich. These events were followed by Cyclone Yasi, which caused further damage to homes and infrastructure when it swept across the north Queensland coast in early February. These events proved to be anything but disastrous for Ms Bligh's public standing. Ms Bligh appeared on TV as the face of reassurance and information dissemination during regular public briefings. "As we weep for what we have lost, and as we grieve for family and friends and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are," she said in an emotional speech as the southeast Queensland flood crisis unfolded. "We are Queenslanders. We're the people that they breed tough, north of the border. We're the ones that they knock down, and we get up again." Ms Bligh enjoyed an unprecedented bounce in the polls, with her approval rating surging from 25 to 60 per cent, according to a Sunday Mail Galaxy poll. But Ms Bligh wasn't the only one in the spotlight during the floods. Campbell Newman, the then lord mayor of Brisbane and her future challenger for the premiership, played a prominent role in preparing his city for the rising river and overseeing the clean up. And he would go on to play a dominant role in state politics too. After a post floods stoush between Mr Newman and the federal Labor government over disaster recovery funding, the mayor of seven years dived into the deep end of state politics, making an unprecedented gamble to lead the LNP without even holding a seat yet. Mr Newman's entrance into the state arena yielded early fruit. In March, after declaring his state tilt but just before resigning as lord mayor, Mr Newman notched up 51 per cent support in the preferred premier stakes compared with Ms Bligh's 38 per cent. News Limited commissioned Galaxy polls throughout the year continued to show the LNP on track for a landslide victory. A poll published in The Courier Mail yesterday had the LNP with a 59 of the two party preferred vote, to Labor's 41 per cent. The government continued to talk about "tough choices" throughout the past term in office. It has certainly made a few unpopular ones. Deputy Premier and Treasurer Andrew Fraser, who in the June 2011 budget removed a $7000 stamp duty discount for home owners who move to a new principal place of residence, said it was the tough decision needed to provide a $10,000 new home building boost and the scrapping of the $113 a year ambulance levy. But the LNP has been gaining traction with its promises to cut the cost of living and rein in government debt, accusing the Bligh administration of mismanaging the economy while heading towards $85 billion in borrowings despite the asset sales. The LNP, whose policies have been criticised as lacking detail, has also tapped into sentiment that Labor has been in office long enough. It didn't help the government that the year ended with another health scandal this time the alleged embezzlement of $16 million by a Queensland Health staffer prompting Ms Bligh to promise an overhaul of the troublesome department to improve its culture.

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