Plausible that One Nation may win
A POLITICAL expert has warned the supposedly safe Labor seat of Gladstone could fall to Pauline Hanson's One Nation at the next state election.
But there's just one tiny detail missing - One Nation is still on the hunt for a local candidate to run against sitting Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher.
Griffith University's senior lecturer and political expert Dr Paul Williams said it was "imminently plausible” and more likely that Gladstone would be taken by One Nation than the neighbouring and rural Liberal National Party held seat of Callide.
He said the political environment made for the "perfect storm” for One Nation to "make big incursions” in blue collar seats like Gladstone.
But Dr Williams said for One Nation to give Mr Butcher a run for his money, the LNP would have to preference One Nation over the Labor Party.
He believed the LNP would, at the last minute, opt to preference One Nation over the Labor Party in some regional seats.
The Labor Party has ruled out giving its preferences to One Nation and has vowed to "put them last”.
If One Nation was to win in Gladstone, Dr Williams said the right-wing party would probably out poll the LNP party but would still need to rely on its preferences.
"Mr Butcher won't win on first preferences this time ... he'll get votes in the low 40s and then you've probably got One Nation with 30% and the LNP with 20%,” Dr Williams said.
"I'm not saying this is going to happen but it is plausible.
"It doesn't matter if you've worked hard (as a local member) and brought investment into the area ... it won't help, when the swing is on, the swing is on.”
Dr Williams said regional Labor seats were going to be "hit hard” because by voting for One Nation, "voters think they're going to install Pauline Hanson as premier”.
"They're voting as a protest, the Hanson phenomenon, her image and the One Nation culture,” he said.
Dr Williams expected One Nation to pick up between 12 and 18 seats at the next state election.
However, bookmakers Sportsbet weren't so sure, with the shortest odds at $2.75 for the party to pick up between five and nine seats.
One Nation spokesman Greg Smith was more optimistic than Dr Williams and despite not having a candidate for Gladstone, he said every seat in Queensland was "winnable”.
"Gladstone is an area we want to run in ... (but) if we don't have an appropriate candidate (we won't run),” Mr Smith said.
"Candidates go through a stringent interview (process) and candidate committee...it's not a matter of putting on the jersey.
"People are not satisfied ... (the state) needs to go in a better direction than before ... every seat is wide open.”
Mr Smith urged anyone interested in signing up to run in Gladstone to phone the party's Brisbane office on 3262 1088.
Mr Butcher was contacted for comment.