Private pain: ‘My biggest regret’
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has revealed it has taken her a long time to come to terms with not having a family of her own.
As she turns 50 this week, she reveals her painful private health battles and the sadness of not having her children of her own.
Twice married (to political journalist George Megalogenis from 1996 to 1998, and from 2004-2009 to-then Labor staffer and now director at the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Simon Every) Palaszczuk, mindful of many other women in the same position, has chosen to speak out about the heartache of infertility.
"I want to be very clear that not having children is a choice many women make, and they are very happy with that decision. But for me, it has been a deep sadness."
The Premier has endometriosis, a condition that occurs when cells similar to those that line the uterus are found in other parts of the body.
It can be agonisingly painful and can cause infertility, and a raft of other health issues.
"It's not easy speaking about it, it feels like a very intimate thing to talk about, but since I did speak about it other women have approached me and said 'I have it too, and I can't have children either'.
"A woman stopped me at Indooroopilly just the other day and said, I showed my family what you had said about endometriosis, and I was able to say to them 'See, this is what I'm going through'.
"For me, had I known more about the condition earlier, I might have been treated earlier and I might have been able to have children, so I understand I need to speak out."
It has taken the Premier a long time to come to terms with not having a family of her own.
"For me, 50 has been the line in the sand, the point where I say it is not going to happen, and I am at peace with that. I feel lucky, actually, I may not have children of my own, but that doesn't mean I don't have a wonderful family."
In the expansive back yard of the Premier's outer-west home, her niece Evelyn, 6, and nephew Harry, 9, are collecting bamboo sticks to stage a sword fight while Queensland's First Dog, Winton, a groodle, gambols around them.
Palaszczuk is extremely close to her three sisters, Cathy, 45, Nadia, 41, and Julia, 39, and their respective children; Harry, 9, (Cathy's son); Annie, 10 and Lucy, 6 (Nadia's daughters); and Evelyn and Emma, 3, (Julia's girls).
"I just love spending time with them, having them over and seeing the world through their eyes, which makes you see it in a much better light yourself."
The Premier is also very close to her parents, Henry, 72, and Lorelle, 70.
While Palaszczuk says that her teenage dreams of life at 50 did not include becoming Premier, there is no doubt her political pedigree somewhat portended a life in politics.
Henry Palaszczuk was, like his daughter after him, the Labor member for Inala until 1992 (he was also the member for Archerfield in 1984).
Theirs is a family steeped in Labor tradition - when Annastacia Palaszczuk was a little girl, she thought a regular visitor to their Durack home, the much-loved Labor figure, Kevin "Buckets" Hooper was Gough Whitlam.
Little wonder, then that she grew up to eschew a law degree earned at the University of Queensland, for a life on the hustings.
For Henry Palaszczuk, known for his charisma, penchant for pastel polo shirts, and dry sense of humour, his daughter's rise to the top of the state Labor tree has been "wonderful to watch".
"Also, everyone finally knows how to spell my name now, so that's been a big plus," he says.
"Watching Stacia grow up, I actually always thought she would probably eventually go into politics and I was not surprised at all when she became leader. Because she was such a curious child, she always wanted to know why, always wanting to join in adult conversations, always asking questions, and later, she was particularly interested in the machinations of politics, how it worked, how things got done."
It was during his daughter's university years, studying law in the late 1980s at the University of Queensland, he says that he "lost her to politics".
"She became completely immersed in university politics and Labor politics, and now that she's Premier it's difficult to spend time with her."
Does he miss seeing her? "Yes, but I've got three other daughters, so it's fine."
This is standard Henry Palaszczuk mischief making.
The Premier says she's inherited her father's sense of humour but not, perhaps, his comedic timing.
"Every now and again people get my jokes," she muses.
"Sometimes I have to say during a speech or a talk, 'That was a joke' and everyone says, 'Oh, the Premier told a joke', and I can't understand why they didn't get it. But I think I'm quite funny," she shrugs.