Russell Robertson.
Russell Robertson. Allan Reinikka ROK010519adebate2

Robbo on why mining towns turned their backs on ALP

IN THE aftermath of LNP's victory in last week's Federal Election, defeated Labor candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson reflected on what caused him to lose the support of his mining heartland.

The Moranbah miner blamed an ALP downswing on an LNP "scare campaign", poor communication from the top-end of the party about their mining commitment, and a significant sway towards One Nation.

After the dust settled, it was revealed that Labor suffered a 10.7 per cent swing in Capricornia, resulting in a significant loss to the LNP.

The results from mining towns showed that Pauline Hansen's party had grabbed votes away from ALP, with his home town of Moranbah an example.

ALP faced a 14.65% swing in the town's main booth, while One Nation's Mr Rothery gained 17.33% while the LNP's Michelle Landry increased her vote by 0.45%.

During his campaign trail through the Central Queensland mining towns, it had become clear to Mr Robertson that people had made up their minds about the ALP's position.

He said he felt nothing could dissuade them that it was negative despite his best efforts.

"On the polling booths, in real terms, the large number was the amount of people who had already made their minds up and walked past everybody," Mr Robertson said.

"They didn't actually need a How To Vote card.

"I spent basically three weeks on pre-poll, 10 hours a day, at polling stations throughout Rockhampton and Yeppoon and a large number of people walked past everybody.

"I think they made their mind up on a fear campaign and they thought they would need to protect themselves."

At Clermont's major polling booth, ALP's vote dropped by 12.95%, One Nation candidate Wade Rothery's picked up 22.73% and the swing to LNP candidate Michelle Landry's was 5.93%.

In Dysart, Mr Robertson's numbers dropped by 17.18%, Mr Rothery's jumped 24.28% and Ms Landry's rose 2%.

In Middlemount, Mr Robertson's numbers dropped again by 19.08%, with One Nation's rising 18.91% and Ms Landry's going up 1.50%.

The swing in One Nation's popularity and the preference votes falling to the Coalition was one of the reason's for LNP success in Capricornia, said Mr Robertson.

"I think what's happened is everyone's walked from us and gone to a third party and fed straight back to (LNP)," Mr Robertson said.

"It doesn't matter if it was Katter or One Nation or Palmer, they all took a primary and fed that straight back to the LNP.

"It doesn't matter which one of those you're voting for, you're always going to get LNP."

Mr Robertson admitted that the mixed messages about the party's support of Adani and state Labor's stance had ultimately hurt ALP's efforts.

"Perhaps there needed to be a clearer message on mining, but I think I fought pretty hard to protect mining jobs and the community," he said.

Battle-weary and disappointed, Mr Robertson discussed his plans to head back to his coal mining job on Friday.

When asked about whether he would stand again next election, he was hesitant to make a decision after the devastating loss.

"It's just a little bit early," he said.

"I'm keen to fight but it's still a bit early. You should always take stock of what's happened before making any decision."

Two Candidate Preferred for Capricornia

Michelle Landry (LNP) 46,757 votes. 17,303 margin. 61.35% of votes this election. 50.63% last election. +10.72% swing.

Russell Robertson (ALP) 29,454 votes. -17,303 margin. 38.65% of votes this election. 49.37% last election. -10.72% swing.