Gympie One Nation Candidate Chelle Dobson.
Gympie One Nation Candidate Chelle Dobson. Jacob Carson

Gympie votes: The desire for change a powerful thing

ONE of the major narratives to come out the 2017 election campaign has been the resurgence of Pauline Hanson and the One Nation Party as a political force in Queensland.

Seats like Gympie, regarded as conservative strongholds, are now becoming seen as highly attractive options by One Nation.

Couple that with a growing dissatisfaction with both major parties, and Chelle Dobson feels tonight's result might not be so cut-and-paste for Tony Perrett.

"People want change, they're tired of the other two parties and they want change - positive change for Queensland," she said while doing some last minute campaigning earlier today.

"There's a lot of stagnant projects out there - regional people aren't getting their fair share.

"A lot of money is getting spent on the South-East corner, Brisbane in particular."

RELATED: Perrett candid on his performance

This need for a shakeup, with an influx of 'non-traditional' candidates has also been a major aspect of the party's campaign this year.

"The candidates for One Nation this time, they all have talents that can be bough to the parliament," she said.

"And we listen to people as well - I've got a box in my office full of people's thoughts and opinions."

"I thought it was the older generation who were our main supporters, but what we've found is that we have a lot of younger Gympie Residents who are voting for One Nation as well, which is really good."

Having made appearances through the Mary Valley into Gympie today, Ms Dobson has noticed a quieter election day than expected.

It was a similar situation across other polling booths today as well, with a large number of Gympie locals taking advantage of pre-polling opportunities.

It did little to dull Ms Dobson and her follower's enthusiasm, as she outlined her vision for what One Nation could do for Gympie.

"I would really like to attract some good employment opportunities, an apprenticeship scheme," she said.

"Gympie is only two hours from Brisbane, it's got some great distribution opportunities.

"It's a great lifestyle out here."

With incumbent Buderim MP Steve Dickson, leader of the Queensland One Nation faction, on seriously shaky ground - it could in fact be a very different story here in Gympie.

A very different kind of change

Gympie's ALP candidate Tracey McWilliam.
Gympie's ALP candidate Tracey McWilliam. Jacob Carson

  On the other side of town Tracey McWilliam said the perception of Gympie as a permanently conservative seat was misguided.

  "I think there are many who are looking for change - this was, some years ago, a Labor stronghold," she said.

  "So it's not that it's never been a Labor seat - people are looking for a bit of an alternative."  

At the polling station on Horseshoe Bend, she noted a distinctly quieter election day this time around. 

  RELATED: Perrett won't declare, despite likely victory

"My day has been quite steady quite steady, I've been out at Pie creek hall - very steady there with lots of encouragement," she said, referencing the increased pre-polling and postal vote numbers for this election.

"It's been very quiet at this particular venue."

When asked if it was a frustrating or discouraging feeling to campaign to smaller crowds, she said it's difficult to convey policies and stances if they don't show up.

"[As a candidate] you want a little more time to get your message across to people - you need that time to actually speak to them," she said.

 "It's certainly been very popular - pre-poll numbers have increased enormously since the last election."

 With the region tipped to undergo major change with an increase in population and an influx of new families entering the fray - there may soon be a greater place for more progressive politics in the future.

 When asked what the issues were prospective Labor voters were concerned about, Ms McWilliam said there was no one particular issue that had people were focusing on.   

"I have seen some of that support - with younger people making a choice rather than just voting the way their parents did," Ms McWilliam said.

 "They're looking at policies instead of personalities, doing the research and making informed decisions.

"The issue they care about are varied, because they're usually personal topics that affect the individual."

That being said, the major topics of any election - including employment in the region - came up again and again.

"They're looking at whether they'll get a pay-rise - there are people that are concerned they'll lose their jobs," she added.        

Gympie Times


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