Was this the final roll of the dice for Pauline and Palmer?

Labor’s history-making third term might be the big headline, but the wildly changing fortunes of minor parties indicates major changes to the our political landscape, writes Madonna King

Nov 01, 2020, updated Nov 02, 2020
Pauline Hanson's has lost a $250,000 defamation case for claiming a former colleague had sexually assaulted a staff member. (Photo: AAP)

Pauline Hanson's has lost a $250,000 defamation case for claiming a former colleague had sexually assaulted a staff member. (Photo: AAP)

RIP One Nation.

If the big-picture story out of the 2020 poll is the historic re-election of the Palaszczuk Government, the side story is the changing influence of the minor parties – the paltry showing of One Nation and Clive Palmer’s UAP, the surge in the Greens’ city vote and the ongoing influence of Robbie Katter’s KAP in the north of the state.

But none draws a better line in the sand than the death of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

While the party will keep the seat of Mirani, its vote has been smashed elsewhere and its influence –  which reached dizzy heights of 22 per cent at its 1988 peak – is now next to nothing.

So where has it gone? A big chunk of that vote has returned to where it came from when Pauline Hanson stole the federal seat of Oxley off the ALP in 1996.

One Nation has carried the misnomer of being an extreme right-wing party but in reality it has been a coalition of the aggrieved who are not getting security from either side of politics.

This time, those with an ALP leaning found security in Labor’s border protection and returned home.

Labor made those voters – particularly older Queenslanders –  feel safe; and that was the impetus for a Labor surge just as much in places such as Bundaberg as it was in the Labor stronghold of Brisbane.

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s father Henry, an astute political player, summed it up well before the power of his daughter’s border strategy was played out in the results last night.

He said the same forces were at play when Scott Morrison took on Bill Shorten’s franking credits proposal and when former prime minister John Howard dealt with the Tampa crisis. His daughter made Queenslanders feel safe.

Pauline Hanson was always going to be a sore loser, but she’s right on one point: the loss of local media in Queensland meant her on-the-ground campaigning received little oxygen. She would have been better to stick to the big, ugly TV spats she is so practiced in performing.

Last night was an expensive loss for One Nation – but not nearly as expensive as the one suffered by Clive Palmer and his United Australia Party.

When counting resumed on Sunday, Clive Palmer’s party had received 11,820 votes, or 0.57 per cent of the state vote. That was fewer votes than those received by the Informed Medical Options Party and the Legalise Cannabis Party.

If you consider his $4.5 million spend, every single vote so far has cost him $380. And that’s principally because of his Herculean overreach – voters hated text spams to their personal phones claiming Labor was planning a death tax.

But while One Nation and United Australia Party were shunned by voters, the surge by the Greens in inner-city electorates is a sign of things to come. Replicating its power in Melbourne and Sydney, the Greens’ win in South Brisbane – with Amy MacMahon taking the seat of former deputy premier Jackie Trad – will write it into the history books.

Helped by the LNP’s strategy to put Labor last, its win again in Maiwar and its influence in seats including McConnel and Cooper means it will not only double its parliamentary representation, it has now cemented its place in the 93-seat Queensland Parliament.

And while Robbie Katter won’t end up the queen-maker many thought before Saturday, his KAP will keep its stranglehold on north Queensland.

How Labor deals with the demands of KAP voters in the north and Green voters in the south is just one of the complexities the party will now need to consider.

But it won’t be the only party needing to refocus and ponder the new landscape.

The LNP will have to deliberate on leadership and whether Deb Frecklington deserves another chance.

But it will also need to relook at its campaign strategy to put Labor last. Already some strategists are blaming that tactic for stealing focus from the minor parties that helped deliver, in previous elections, a fatter vote to the LNP.  It will need to find that support from somewhere.


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