One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson makes her maiden speech in the Senate in Canberra, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.
One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson makes her maiden speech in the Senate in Canberra, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. MICK TSIKAS

Did the LNP back Hanson into power?

THE LNP manned One Nation Party booths during the federal election in a move designed to help secure the Coalition control of the Senate but which may ultimately cost the LNP dearly at the next Queensland election according to a former stalwart of this State's conservative politics.

Alex Douglas, who lost the state seat of Gaven on the Gold Coast in 2015 after quitting the LNP because of its interference with the parliamentary crime and corruption committee of which he was chair, has spoken out as One Nation looks set to secure a raft of seats at a state election he predicts will as early as April.

Dr Douglas, the grandson of a former Queensland Premier, dabbled with the Clive Palmer Party before becoming disillusioned with the billionaire's dictatorial leadership style.


Melbourne Cup socials at Ned Kelly's Restaurant at the Palmer Coolum Resort:
(L-R) Alex and Susie Douglas.
Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily
Dr Alex Douglas and his wife Susie worked on the failed campaign to secure the re-election to the Senate of Glenn Lazarus. Brett Wortman

He retains a close interest in politics and in contact with people from across the political spectrum.

The claims have been rejected as a "nonsense argument" by LNP Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle and were he said "simply ridiculous".

A One Nation spokesperson has also denied the claims.

But both Mr McArdle and long-term Sunshine Coast LNP operative Pauline Clayton have warned One Nation was likely to have a major impact at the next state election.

Dr Douglas predicts One Nation will win at least eight and a maximum of 15 seats at the next Queensland election but says its polling is largely static.

The exceptions are the Sunshine Coast seats of Caloundra and Glass House, Toowoomba and Nanango where it is on the rise.

Dr Douglas provided election support to former Palmer Senator Glenn Lazarus who he said had been targeted by the LNP through One Nation.

"One Nation is really just a faction of the LNP," he said.

"Outside Brisbane metropolitan areas LNP booth workers were interchanging shirts. One minute they were LNP and the next Hanson. This was going on all over the state.

"Hanson benefited from (LNP) booth support. There were at least 20 booths involved including Ashmore and Bigerra Waters on the Gold Coast, Ipswich and it happened on the Sunshine Coast.

"She lacked capacity and booth workers.

"It was very smart. Politics is about what's possible."

Dr Douglas said the tactic ultimately helped the Coalition win some Senate control but would rebound badly at the Queensland election where compulsory third party voting would come into play.

"The margins will make the difference," he said.

"Three quarters of LNP preferences will go to Hanson and a quarter to Labor.

"Labor won't lose preferences. It will pick up swinging LNP voters."

The keen political strategist believes One Nation lacks the core votes or swingers in major population areas where most state seats exist.

He gives it as best 6% of the primary vote in parts of Brisbane where it would need 9-10% to help the LNP back into office.

"Maths matter," Dr Douglas said. "Most seats are in Brisbane. Labor will run a Brisbane-centric campaign."

He is also dismissive of attacks on the strength of the state's finances saying it had assets of $300 billion to $330 billion set against nett debt of around $30bn and gross debt of $90bn.

"If anything Queensland is under-geared. Revenue streams are incredibly strong."

Mr McArdle said Dr Douglas should have the intelligence to understand his claims about booth workers swapping shirts to alternatively support LNP and then One Nation candidates was simply ridiculous.

"The LNP supports the LNP and the Coalition," he said.


Mark and Judy McArdle at the polling booth in Nutley Street, Caloundra.  Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Mark McArdle (LNP Caloundra) and his wife Judy campaigned for Fisher LNP candidate Andrew Wallace. John McCutcheon

"We don't dabble in rubbish politics. One Nation may well and possibly will (have a huge impact in Qld) but these claims are on the fringe of reality,.

"The LNP would not act in such a ridiculous manner."

Mr McArdle said he had not noticed increase support for the Hanson party inside his electorate but would not be surprised.

"That applies everywhere," he said. "The major parties are not listening to the desires and wishes of the electorate.

"Palmer was the start of it. One Nation has a better leader in Hanson. She will get a lot of support.

"People are angry and feel isolated. They are feeling the pain of increased cost of living and the need to cater for the growth on the Sunshine Coast is not being heard.

"People are hurting in the hip pocket."

Mr McArdle lashed out at the propensity of political parties to test the electorate's mood through focus groups and polls leading to 30-second sound grabs rather than "long-term policies for the benefit of the state.

"There is a sense of 1998 out there," he said referring to the One Nation vote in that election.

"There's frustration with the major parties.

"One Nation is by no means a certainty but I think it has a leader who has been through the ringer and who appears at least to be listening and understanding. We have to change that."

Pauline Clayton who has had a long involvement in conservative politics and campaigning dating back to 1970. She is a Kawana branch member of the LNP and has worked supporting both Jarrod Bleijie and Mal Brough as well as a number of other federal Coalition politicians.


TROUBLE AHEAD: Pauline Clayton, who has campaigned for the Coalition since 1970, is disenchanted enough to consider changing her vote for the first time.

Ms Clayton said support was strong for Mr Bleijie within the Kawana branch but said she was aware of a number of former Liberals who would vote One Nation and voted One Nation at the last federal election.

"Last time (1998) it was the Nats and I think they will return to her," she said.

"I've spoken to strong former Nats now in the LNP who have told me 'if we don't preference One Nation we are crazy'.

"Jarrod Bleijie has always been a hard worker. Anyone sloppy on the edges or who doesn't communicate well will be in trouble."

Ms Clayton, now a single part pensioner, warns of a serious backlash against the LNP from voters who don't separate federal from state politics over the cuts to pensions which will kick in with the first cheque distribution in 2017.

"I'm hearing a great deal of concern from (LNP) members. The federal pension hit will be sheeted home to the LNP here.

"There is a real concern in the community and I think in the ranks of politicians don't understand it.

"There is a wave of discontent rushing towards them and I'm part of it.

"I was involved in my first campaign in 1970 and from that day on I have never considered voting for the Libs or LNP.

"Right now I couldn't promise it."

A One Nation spokesperson said no one within Pauline Hanson's One Nation executive, or candidates in these seats were aware of any truth to the claims by Dr Douglas. 

"Pauline Hanson's One Nation have not seen polling in the seats of Caloundra, Glass House, Nanango or Toowoomba, however the Party is aware of increased support across Queensland and the whole country since the success of One Nation at the Federal election," he said.

"Dr Douglas is entitled to his own opinion, however claims that Pauline Hanson's One Nation is a faction of the LNP does not make sense and may be defamatory".