HOLDING ON: Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien is expected to retain his
HOLDING ON: Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien is expected to retain his "fairly safe” seat, political commentator Dr Paul Williams says. Renee Albrecht

Will a voter swing against O'Brien be enough to unseat him?

A RED wedding-style political bloodbath may be on the cards for the Federal Government at the next election, but one political expert says Wide Bay's incumbent should not be a casualty.

With the LNP remaining under fire in Canberra, Griffith University political commentator Dr Paul Williams said MP Llew O'Brien could expect to be squeezed by a 3-5 per cent swing this year.

And although no election prediction was ironclad, he did not expect the seat to be toppled.

"It's not on the ALP's hit list,” he said.

Griffith University political commentator Dr Paul Williams.
Griffith University political commentator Dr Paul Williams. Contributed

Mr O'Brien's Wide Bay seat was named as one in danger in December, based on the two-party swing against the government at the last state election.

Dr Williams said elections were hard to predict - and the difficulty grew with every one - but he "can't see O'Brien in danger”.

Although One Nation had received 15 per cent of the vote in 2016, Dr Williams said they are "on the slide” and likely to only grab 10 per cent this time around.

Ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull and Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien.
Ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull and Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien. Contributed

He expected that 4-5 per cent who deserted the party would vote Labor - but they would still tally only 45 per cent after preferences.

Seats like South Brisbane's Forde were obvious ALP targets, whereas the Wide Bay has more in common with Flynn, Dickson, Leichhardt and Kennedy.

"Regional Queensland will probably vote as one,” Dr Williams said.

And it was detrimental for parties who want to topple O'Brien to not have their candidates forward as early as possible.

"A long lead-up to a campaign delivers something of a benefit,” he said.

MP Llew O'Brien.
MP Llew O'Brien. Alistair Brightman

Campbell Newman's success was a prime example, as the former Queensland premiere was door-knocking 12 months before his state election win.

There were "some exceptions”, Dr Williams said, but "it's got to feed into enormous hatred”.

Unlike Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, he said Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not hated.

"Voters look at the LNP and just roll their eyes,” Dr Williams said.

MP Llew O'Brien at the UN.
MP Llew O'Brien at the UN.

He said unemployment and energy prices were among the biggest items the Wide Bay election would be fought over.

The seat's stability did not rule it out of getting a cash splash, either.

Dr Williams said there was $9 billion "cache of cash” available for the parties to make promises with, and regional Queensland electorates like Wide Bay would benefit.

He expects the Federal Government to be dissolved in April.

Gympie Times


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