TACTICS: LNP leader Tim Nicholls has a big challenge ahead in dealing with One Nation, but his party has options.
TACTICS: LNP leader Tim Nicholls has a big challenge ahead in dealing with One Nation, but his party has options. DAN PELED

One Nation keeps LNP on the hop in Ipswich West

UPDATE:

CLAIMS that the LNP is set to hand the state seat of Ipswich West to One Nation have been described by LNP State Director Michael O'Dwyer as "utter rubbish".

Sources had earlier told the QT the party was considering a daring plan to not run a candidate in the seat so that LNP preferences did not leak to the ALP and get sitting MP Jim Madden over the line.

"This is utter rubbish," Mr O'Dwyer said.

"The LNP will be running candidates in all seats and we will be seeking the first vote of all Queenslanders as it is the only way to deliver a stronger and safer state and remove an inexperienced, reactionary and crisis ridden Labor Government."

EARLIER:

LABOR Party sources expect the LNP will run candidates in all seats at the next state election.

But sources have told the QT that the LNP is "wedged from the right" and not sure what to do about One Nation.

One ALP source said that for every vote the LNP gets at a state election they get funds that roll into party coffers.

"That would run into many thousands of dollars," the source said.

"The second thing is that as a major political party you make a major mistake when you vacate the field and you end up with people voting for alternatives to you. They are then more likely to not vote for you next time you have a candidate.

"The third reason you don't do it is that you want people who are your voters to keep faith in you. It is a brand issue.

"You don't want to feel as though you are no chance anywhere in a general election. So not running a candidate demonstrates you have no faith in your ability to win."

The QT has been told that expressions of interest have been sought by the LNP for candidates to run in Ipswich West.

But we are still waiting to hear back from the LNP on whether they will preference One Nation at the next state election in Ipswich West and around the state, put One Nation last or not run a candidate at all in Ipswich West and other select seats.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls.
LNP leader Tim Nicholls. Patrick Woods

EARLIER:

THERE is strong speculation that the LNP has a spectacular plan to overthrow Labor at the next state election.

The QT has been told there is consideration being given to thwart Labor by not running LNP candidates in key seats currently held by the ALP and where the One Nation vote is likely to outstrip the LNP vote.

Ipswich West, held by Labor's Jim Madden, has been specifically mentioned as one of those seats.

The LNP tactic is to strongly help get up One Nation candidates in seats the LNP is unlikely to win.

With compulsory preferential voting, there would likely be a leak of some preferences from the LNP to Labor and maybe just enough to allow Labor to hold some of those seats.

With no LNP candidate, traditional LNP voters are more likely to switch to One Nation rather than Labor or the Greens. Then there is no leakage of preferences.

It has been described by one source as "a brilliant, spectacular and cunning plan".

The QT has learned that the LNP hierarchy is still mulling over how to deal with One Nation phenomena at the next election.

The party has identified the seats across the state where they consider One Nation is a good chance of winning - with Ipswich West and Lockyer two of those.

As the QT sees it, and based on our own discussions with LNP sources, the opposition has three options and all three are fraught with both risk and possible reward.

The reward, although perhaps a poisoned chalice, would be Labor losing seats en masse to One Nation and the LNP forming a minority government with One Nation's support.

Former premier Campbell Newman has already flagged such an eventuality.

In dealing with One Nation, one option for LNP is mentioned above.

The other is to preference One Nation ahead of Labor in the seats where Pauline Hanson's party is expected to win and where Labor is likely to finish second or narrowly lead.

With the LNP likely to come third in those seats, LNP preferences would assist One Nation and knock out the sitting Labor MP.

The danger here is the backlash in the inner Brisbane seats against the LNP from the moderate liberal voters who view One Nation as 'persona non grata'.

There is an historic precedent here. The Coalition Rob Borbidge government in 1998, due to pressure from party headquarters and against the leader's wishes, preferenced One Nation ahead of the ALP.

The result was the Coalition lost 11 seats, One Nation won 11 and Peter Beattie became Premier. The tactic saw Labor lose less seats than the Coalition.

It was the urban Brisbane small 'l' liberals who turned against the Borbidge-government while One Nation also decimated the Coalition in its rural heartland.

This will make LNP leader Tim Nicholls nervous about repeating the tactic.

But the difference in 2016 is that this time it is more likely Labor will lose far more seats than the solitary seat they gave up in 1998.

The other option the LNP has is to preference One Nation last, but this is a risky business as well.

Take Ipswich West for instance. If the LNP does run a candidate and that candidate does not finish in the top two, then a likely third-placed LNP could see its preferences push Mr Madden over the line.

The same thing could happen in other seats.

By not running an LNP candidate in those knife-edge seats, the LNP would avoid voter backlash if they decided to preference One Nation. It would also avoid helping Labor over the line if the party decided to put One Nation last.

Compounding the LNP, and Labor's, dilemmas ahead of this next state election is the volatility of the electorate.

It is unknown just how the public's disillusionment with major parties will play out.

Is the Brexit and the Donald Trump result in the US going to be repeated in Australia?

The key word here is VOLATILITY.

At the last state election Labor voters in the seat of Lockyer preferenced One Nation ahead of the LNP in far greater numbers than was anticipated and almost got Ms Hanson over the line.

Then at the last federal election we saw One Nation voters in the working class western suburbs of Ipswich preference the ALP's Shayne Neumann ahead of the LNP's Teresa Harding in droves.

One Nation sympathisers often do not follow how-to-vote cards, making tactics for both parties ahead of this next state election a tightrope balancing act of epic proportions.   



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