RIGHT FLANK OWN GOALS BOOST ALP
Other parties’ baggage lifts Labor’s prospects, writes Dennis Atkins
WHAT do Steve Dickson, Fraser Anning, Tim Nicholls and Campbell Newman have in common?
They are the four people most likely to help Annastacia Palaszczuk pull off an unexpected and, until now, unlikely, victory from the electoral fire.
Steve Dickson, the titular One Nation Queensland leader (pictured above with Pauline Hanson), was unrecognisable to Townsville voters a week ago.
Hamish Macdonald, on Ten’s The Project, went to the northern capital and asked random people if they could name Dickson after looking at his photo. No one could.
Every one of these voters recognised Hanson immediately.
Now some of these people might know who Dickson is after his dunderheaded ramblings about the Safe Schools program in which he claimed primary school students were being taught “how to masturbate” and “how to strap on dildos”.
Dickson could offer no proof this was really happening – it isn’t – and he has now apologised to everyone, with a special “sorry” for teachers. He clearly kicked a big own goal.
Fraser Anning is the One Nation senator who was picked in a High Court recount to replace citizenship dunce Malcolm Roberts. He quit Hanson’s party within 20 minutes of being sworn in as an Upper House MP.
New polling released yesterday revealed there is a “suspicion” about One Nation and its record, with memories still alive about the way its 11 MPs elected in the 1998 state poll crumbled in chaos before the term was out.
One specific point raised by respondents to the Australian Institute for Progress polling is a dislike of exactly what Anning did.
“One Nation is also viewed suspiciously, even by those voting for it, because its real leader, Hanson, is not running for state parliament, and it has a record of defections once elected,” says the AIP report.
The poll also highlights a worrying message in this state election for Malcolm Turnbull and he could feel its force come Saturday week.
“One Nation’s support has been swelled by the decline in the Liberal Party vote, and this has been driven by cultural concerns,” says the AIP report.
“These voters are conservatives, not ‘moderates’, and they are uncomfortable with a party that is too ‘centrist’.
“Where once the National Party might have been home, their only mainstream major party option is now formally part of the federal Liberal Party.”
The AIP’s Graham Young says this explains, in large part, why One Nation’s support has spread into the greater metropolitan area where it is picking up women and younger people.
This was seen in the very high One Nation vote in The Courier-Mail’s Galaxy poll of the once-solid Labor seat of Logan at the weekend.
The other factors thrown up in Young’s research is that Nicholls continues to carry a lot of baggage because of his role as Newman’s Treasurer.
The polling shows this was always going to be an election where job creation was top of the agenda.
However, while Palaszczuk carries plenty of dead weight on this, Nicholls also runs with a hefty handicap.
“That handicap is Campbell Newman,” said Young’s report.
“While Newman has been gone 33 months, one of Nicholls two biggest weaknesses is that not only was he part of the Newman government, but he was seen as being the right hand man who ‘slashed’ jobs and spending.
“The LNP has been running advertisements apologising for the Newman government, but the electorate is withholding absolution.
“Perhaps they need to hear the word ‘sorry’ more frequently from Tim Nicholls, or perhaps there is nothing he can do.”
The AIP report says 52 per cent of respondents expect a hung Parliament but this is not what most want – 41 per cent want Labor to win while 39 per cent say the LNP should win.
“This (contradiction) underlines one of the features of the minor party vote – for many, if not most, it is a vote for protest, not for government,” says the report.
“Most voters (53 per cent) don’t think the Government deserves to be re-elected, while only 37 per cent think they do.
“The position is worse for the Opposition with 56 per cent thinking they don’t deserve to be elected, while only 23 per cent think they do.
“Tellingly only 50 per cent of LNP voters believe their own party deserves election, while 16 per cent don’t, and another 34 per cent are neutral.”
This is a heady mix which could end up anywhere.
Neither of the major parties is counted out as an outright winner, although it’s going to be harder for the LNP.
Labor is still in the hunt to get 47 seats which, alone, is remarkable.