It’s no coincidence that day one of the election campaign saw LNP leader Tim Nicholls head to the most marginal seat in the State - Lockyer. It also just happens to be fertile ground for One Nation.
Although currently held by the LNP’s Ian Rickuss, Lockyer was very nearly snatched by One Nation’s Pauline Hanson in 2015. The LNP clung on, eventually winning by just 114 votes. Mr Rickuss has held Lockyer since 2004 but announced almost a year ago that he wouldn’t re-contest the seat. Instead, the LNP endorsed Jim McDonald to face a seasoned opponent in One Nation’s Jim Savage. Mr Savage is a former Beaudesert district farmer, resource industry worker and a past president of One Nation.
His association with One Nation goes back 15 years and many agree it was a smart move for the party to select a candidate so well known to One Nation voters.
“Ian Rickuss retiring really leaves the seat up for the grabs and Lockyer has always been fertile ground for One Nation,” said Dr Chris Salisbury from the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland.
“Jim Savage has long been involved with the Party in Queensland and One Nation supporters will recognise him.
“I think it’s the most obvious seat that we could expect to go to One Nation.”
Many, including former LNP Premier Campbell Newman, have tipped One Nation to pick up as many as ten seats across Queensland. In traditional hotspots such as Maryborough, Hervey Bay and the Wide Bay, those predictions are causing jitters in the major parties.
Callide is another seat left wide open by retiring LNP member Jeff Seeney. Mr Seeney held on in 2015 by just six per cent against a Palmer United Party candidate.
One Nation candidate and local farmer, Sharon Lohse has been campaigning hard and many locals believe she’s made significant headway.
Meanwhile, North Queensland also has a long history of supporting One Nation, points out Dr Salisbury.
Rose Lee Long held the seat of Tablelands for One Nation for three consecutive terms from 2001 to 2009, making her One Nation’s longest serving MP.
Dr Salisbury says One Nation can’t be ruled out in the north but he said some major electoral boundary changes and the introduction of compulsory preferential voting makes predicting outcomes virtually impossible.