PRESENCE FELT: Rite-ON legal advisor John Bolton at Beerwah on Saturday.
PRESENCE FELT: Rite-ON legal advisor John Bolton at Beerwah on Saturday. Patrick Woods

How lobby group's last-minute plan changed election result

A PLAN hatched less than a month ago involving a group of political novices has determined the outcome in two critical Sunshine Coast seat the Labor Party had been confident of winning.

Safe Communities lobbying group Rite-ON determined to make its presence felt in Maroochydore, Caloundra and Glass House the moment One Nation decided to preference Labor ahead of the LNP in those seats.

Spokesman, Kawana Waters retiree Gary Graham, said Rite-ON became involved because of fear that what it considered a bad One Nation decision may lead to a majority Labor government.

He said it was also deeply worried about a full-term abortion bill introduced by former Labor Member Rob Pyne and the lack of disclosure around the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.

Safe Communities has just under 1000 paid up members on the Sunshine Coast. It deployed 20-30 of those on election day particularly targeting seven of the biggest booths in Glass House for the full duration of the day.

"This is the first time we've been engaged in an election to this level," Mr Graham said.

"We were extremely concerned One Nation preferences could result in delivering seats to Labor.

"We were not as concerned in Maroochydore because of Fiona Simpson's majority but in Glass House and Caloundra we were very much concerned."

Mr Graham said the success which has enabled Mark McArdle to hang on in Caloundra and Andrew Powell to turn around what appeared a certain defeat in Glass House would see Rite-ON looking at every election from here on for possible involvement.

If One Nation voters had followed the party card Labor's Jason Hunt would have almost certainly ended Mr McArdle's career while in Glass House Brent Hampstead would have seen Mr Powell out of office.

One Nation ran strong candidates in both seats.

Its preferences flowed heavily to the sitting LNP members after Rite-ON volunteers wearing orange shirts to attract One Nation voters handed out How to Vote cards placing the Labor candidates last.

The tactic worked although it was likely many One Nation voters would have decided independently to defy official party How to Vote cards.

Preferences flowing from Tracey Bell-Henselin's 22.32% of the vote to Mr Powell (34.99%) allowed him to hold off Labor's Brent Hampstead (27.04%) in Glass House.

In Caloundra Rod Jones also performed well for One Nation securing 21.91% to keep the LNP's Mark McArdle (38.75%) safe from Labor's Jason Hunt on 28.94%.