LNP Leader Tim Nicholls enjoying a ride at Dreamworld. Pic Annette Dew
LNP Leader Tim Nicholls enjoying a ride at Dreamworld. Pic Annette Dew

LNP’s deal with One Nation will alienate voters

THERE'S much to admire about Queensland's Liberal-National Party.

Since its formation in 2008, the party has endured two election defeats and a rollercoaster ride under Campbell Newman, but the LNP still remains remarkably upbeat and unified. It's also offered some attractive policies this election - reduced power bills, higher payroll tax thresholds and public transport support for seniors - and enjoyed one of the smoothest campaigns we've seen in years.

After a lacklustre 18 months as Opposition Leader, Tim Nicholls over these past two weeks has finally begun to look like an alternative premier.

One Nation and LNP preference deal irks CQ pollies

That was until late Friday when the LNP made public its long-awaited preference decision. After telling Queenslanders for months there would be no deals with One Nation (ONP), the LNP quietly released its plan to number ONP candidates ahead of Labor in up to 50 of the state's 93 seats.

The LNP insists this is not a "deal" because ONP - in putting all sitting MPs last - refuses to return the favour. And, technically, that's true. But it's a moot point.

Pauline Hanson was disappointed in Fraser Anning, even before he quit. Picture: Kym Smith
Pauline Hanson was disappointed in Fraser Anning, even before he quit. Picture: Kym Smith

Voters will see the LNP's longstanding pledge of "no deals" - then quietly preferencing a party it says is anathema to Australian values - as naked hypocrisy.

Sadly, the LNP has bought into a cynical "whatever it takes" model that now sees them in bed with a party burdened with laughable economic credentials and which has been forced to disendorse too many candidates for anti-social behaviour.

No wonder the LNP quietly released its plan late on Friday. Like a dirty family secret, the Opposition is clearly embarrassed with the company it now keeps.

But the preference cat is out of the campaign bag. From this point - after a week in which ONP leader Pauline Hanson refused to call out the racial and religious abuse suffered by Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, and after an ONP candidate's sex shop website joked about sexual and domestic violence - voters will now rate the LNP's integrity as compromised.

The LNP had an opportunity to place ONP last and extinguish a party that - with its tariffs, foreign investment xenophobia and two per cent tax madness - would destroy the state economy. 

But the LNP, a party of experienced and professional policymakers, would rather govern with a ragtag rump of amateurs who admire Russian dictators, who are happy for Queensland to subsidise Western Australian GST revenues, who fear vaccinations and spout NASA conspiracy theories, who want autistic children removed from mainstream schools, who vilify law-abiding Muslims, and who invent stories (without a shred of evidence) about a Safe Schools program designed to protect kids from bullies.

Like Dorothy in Oz, we've entered a very dark place in Queensland politics.

My experience talking with ONP voters is that Hansonites fall into two groups. The first is a small minority, ideologically driven by a far-right hatred of political correctness (however defined).

This group spouts free-speech principles but assails critics who disagree with them. This group is also deaf to logic and reason.

The majority are good people who are simply disillusioned by a two-party system that has allowed inflation to outstrip wages.

One Nation candidate Malcolm Roberts was confronted by union representatives at an End All DV awareness and fundraising event in Queens Park. Union representatives clashed with One Nation supporters in a verbal stoush.
Ousted One Nation politician Malcolm Roberts will now run in the Queensland state election to keep his career in politics intact.

These voters hate it when pollies obsess over opinion polls and leadership spills, and they're especially exasperated by the current citizenship saga. They're looking for something - anything - to short-circuit a political system that appears to serve no one.

Enter One Nation and a leader whose unorthodox style is outside the political circle. Because Pauline neither looks nor sounds like a politician, her ethos - or personal credibility - is automatically stronger than conventional politicians.

But make no mistake: Hanson, a serial candidate of 10 elections over 20 years - who's now more at home in the lofty Upper House than the pub at Thargomindah - is a salaried politician with a capital P.

And ONP, with its internal brawls and resigning members like Fraser Anning yesterday, is no better (and probably a lot worse) than the majors.

That's why I now ask the great majority of potential ONP voters to put aside Hanson's bold promise to return Queensland to a protected world where thousands of highly-paid, low-skilled jobs are there for the asking.

Instead, I want ONP voters to ask themselves two questions: What has ONP achieved in its 20 years of receiving taxpayers' election funding? And, after almost 18 months in the Senate, how have ONP's four (now three with Anning's departure) senators helped you?

Lastly, I wonder if Nicholls, a very capable politician, knows what he's in for. Because of his preference deal, Nicholls will now be forced to compromise sound economic management for - and maybe even give ministries to - a One Nation party that cannot distinguish fact from fiction.

We're not in Kansas anymore. This is the new Queensland.

Dr Paul Williams is a senior lecturer at Griffith University School of Humanities