J.T. risks becoming a political football
JOHNATHAN Thurston risks becoming a political puppet when his statue is unveiled at the new Townsville Stadium in the lead-up to the state election.
No doubt Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and local ALP members will attempt to spin the event in a bid to restore their tarnished images.
With crime and unemployment rampant in Townsville, and infrastructure spending generally lagging in north Queensland, Labor will have difficulty holding the three seats in and around Townsville.
But we mustn't underestimate the impact of this taxpayer-funded idolatry in a town obsessed with rugby league.
Today I can reveal the life-size bronze of Thurston will cost taxpayers $85,060, about $15,000 more than the cost of each statue of the league legends at Suncorp Stadium.
Palaszczuk suddenly announced the Origin playmaker would be immortalised in bronze last year when she hit a rough patch in Parliament.
The announcement was a cynical political distraction after the Premier was left embarrassed in Question Time over revelations that hundreds of children as young as 10 were incarcerated in adult maximum security prisons because there weren't enough beds in juvenile detention centres.
The Thurston statue, by Townsville artist Jane Hawkins, will stand in the northern entry plaza of the stadium.
I'm told Hawkins has all but completed the clay mould.
Early pictures show a detailed work in which Thurston is poised to kick the Cowboys to golden-point glory in the 2015 NRL Grand Final.