Pauline Hanson campaigning in Hervey Bay.
Pauline Hanson campaigning in Hervey Bay. Valerie Horton

What Queenslanders think of One Nation

SUNSHINE Coast university student Lisa doesn't have time for One Nation.

"I think they're actually offensive. I don't think (Pauline Hanson) should be in politics and I don't think One Nation should be in politics," she says during her lunch break at a Maroochydore shopping centre.

As for the politician representing her electorate of Buderim in Queensland Parliament, Steve Dickson, she doesn't have a problem. The 23-year-old has met the MP a couple of times and says she believes he's done a good job representing the area - there's no reason she wouldn't vote for him in Saturday's state election.

"Except that he's representing One Nation now, right?" I remind her.

"What? I didn't know that. I don't know anyone who will be voting for One Nation and I won't be voting for him if he is."

Another voter at a nearby pre-polling booth says Mr Dickson can "stick with Pauline".

"We voted him in as a Liberal, and we want a Liberal, so that's what we're going to vote for," he says.

Mr Dickson, a former LNP minister under the Newman Government, defected from the major party earlier this year to become One Nation's leader because, he said at the time, people were being let down.

Leading One Nation to the polls is the first test of the party's federal leader Senator Pauline Hanson's plan to have representatives in every state and territory, at every level of government.

He's the first to admit his defection was a controversial decision, telling while handing out how-to-vote cards in his electorate that when he made the switch in January his constituents weren't impressed.

"When it first happened, I think people were pretty upset, and I understand that," he says.

"But the party had abandoned the people of the Sunshine Coast … people have had a gutful of both major parties, and they've let down the people of Queensland.

"I believe the two major parties have lost their way, they've deserted the people of Queensland, and I believe Queenslanders have now lost their way and we are the obvious change."

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and MP Steve Dickson announce a game-changing move early in the Queensland State election.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and MP Steve Dickson announce a game-changing move early in the Queensland State election. Patrick Woods

While the sentiment Mr Dickson talks about isn't reflected in all the voters I talk to, many are on his side.

Brian Carlson says he'll proudly back One Nation and particularly supports the party's federal leader Pauline Hanson. He's let down learning he can't vote directly for the federal Senator in the Queensland election but he'll put a number one next to anyone on the ballot under her party's name.

"I think she'll do well," he says. "She is not afraid to say what a lot of people are afraid to say."

Undecided voter Margaret isn't going to make up her mind until she absolutely has to on Saturday, but her reasoning reflects the disillusionment that caused Mr Dickson to jump ship.

"I am a Liberal but I think the two parties are so close now, they've somehow come closer together and neither of them really seem to stand for anything," she says. "I admire Pauline but I think her policies might be a bit extreme. I would like a change but I suppose it's a case of better the devil you know."

The same mixed attitudes are reflected in the people of Ipswich where dismissed Queensland senator Malcolm Roberts is running.

I find Mr Roberts campaigning at a voting booth, enthusiastically greeting voters wearing a bright orange One Nation branded cap and T-shirt, which sits slightly too large on the compact former senator, and handing out lunch he's bought for his staff and volunteers.

After insisting he doesn't want to do an interview so close to the campaign's end, he shares with me the top issues for the electorate and his reason for running: "People don't trust the tired old parties and they feel they're being lied to," he says. "They're telling me they're being ignored and taken for granted."

One Nation candidate Malcolm Roberts was handing out how-to-vote cards to voters at the Ipswich Pre-poll office.
One Nation candidate Malcolm Roberts was handing out how-to-vote cards to voters at the Ipswich Pre-poll office. David Nielsen

Mr Roberts has been accused of being a blow-in. He was parachuted into preselection in Ipswich after being booted from federal Parliament over his citizenship status.

He doesn't live in the electorate and there's suspicion the celebrity candidate was put into Ipswich because of its familiarity with One Nation as the city where Senator Hanson began her political career.

He's well across the top issues for the area - energy, cost of living, jobs, safety and corruption - but is in a tough position trying to win the seat that Labor has a strong hold on a 16 per cent margin.

Over in Ipswich's Riverlink shopping centre, Ewan Watson says One Nation is a little too extreme for him and his family, but admits "there's no one I really want to vote for".

Bruce and Lindy Chiverton say they want a parliamentary representative who really understand the needs of the electorate, and listens to the people. Their priorities are disability services and a government that can get policies over the line, which Annastacia Palaszczuk's Labor government has struggled to do with a minority hold on power.

Margaret Chatman, who's lived in Ipswich for 34 years, has never heard of Malcolm Roberts but says she'll vote for One Nation because she thinks Pauline Hanson is the only one who "tells it the way it is, how we would say it".

"She seems like she listens," she says.

One Nation is running on a broad range of election platforms, with policies ranging from "no asset sales" to making "legitimate gun ownership less costly and less convoluted", and a crackdown on crocodile management in urban Queensland.

But its overarching priority, both major candidates tell me, is voter disenfranchisement. While most voters I talk to aren't necessarily One Nation fans, a clear majority of them feel they aren't being effectively representative by ALP and LNP politicians.

Mr Dickson, who's tipped to lose his seat to LNP opponent Brent Mickelberg, says a groundswell of support for One Nation is part of the global phenomenon that dictated the Brexit vote and rocketed US President Donald Trump into the most powerful position in the world.

Mr Roberts, who has even less of a chance at stealing Ipswich from its safe Labor representative, says One Nation has tapped into voters' dissatisfaction by not promoting opinions and being "about listening to people".

Support for One Nation has dropped in the final few days of the election campaign, with the latest Galaxy poll claiming only 12 per cent support for the party which days ago was tracking at 16 per cent.

The same poll predicts a victory for Labor, who One Nation claims has "given up on regional Queensland".

Mr Dickson predicts One Nation could grab as many as eight seats and believes either of the major parties will need his candidates' support to form government.

Ms Palaszczuk reiterated this morning on Sky News she would do "no deals with One Nation", while LNP leader Tim Nicholls hasn't ruled out teaming with the bold minor party.

One Nation's Queenslander leader knows he's in trouble, but even if Saturday's vote means the end of Mr Dickson's parliamentary career, he says he'll be celebrating with One Nation supporters on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday night.

"One way or another I think we're going to have the balance of power in Queensland. It's going to be a different make up of any government."