One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.

Queenslanders have proven we don't want One Nation

IT'S a familiar phrase on social media posts from southern states - Queensland is a backwater that spawned One Nation, and only we are to thank for their continued presence in the Australian political scene.

Well we might have spawned them but our last two elections have proven, against the tide of media commentary, that we no longer want them.

Even in a state known for its love of the protest vote, One Nation failed to make the significant impact that was predicted in the 2017 state election.

They ran candidates in 61 seats, some of them with big names and an existing voter base. Malcolm Roberts attempted to gain the seat of Ipswich out of Labor's hands. Steve Dickson defected from the LNP and tried to secure Buderim back from his old party.

Both failed.

In fact, most of the candidates failed. Only one One Nation candidate managed to snag a spot as an MP, winning 32% of the vote. Stephen Andrews continues to hold the seat of Mirani.

The 2017 election was supposed to be the second coming of the party that 'stands up' for the everyday voter, that claims to say what others aren't prepared to say.

Instead their second tilt at Queensland politics fizzled out in the voting booths where the 'everyday' voter decided, yeah no thanks.

We're facing the same style of rhetoric as we head towards the 2019 federal election. It could almost be an echo from the past two state elections.

But even Pauline Hanson herself couldn't get elected to the Queensland state parliament.

She tried four years ago, in 2015, in the seat of Lockyer. She got 26% of the vote, coming second to the LNP's sitting MP.

That election was also supposed to be the next resurgence of fringe parties. Hanson was coming back after years out of any parliament. As a then-senator, Clive Palmer ran candidates for his Palmer United Party across the state.

Instead they both lost. PUP managed about 5% of the vote and Palmer boasted in the Senate that the party had stopped the re-election of Campbell Newman's government.

Newman, by the way, was long gone. His replacement Tim Nicholls faced a whopping defeat from early in the race, PUP or no PUP. Some blame goes to the LNP's ill-thought out preference deal with One Nation for their massive loss.

Once the dust settled from 2015, Hanson got a clear run to the senate spot she won in the federal election in 2016. Palmer retired as an MP before the 2016 election but is inexplicably making another tilt for 2019, under a new party name and in the senate. 

The resurgence rhetoric has stuck around with them. The threat of a major minor party swing seems to hang over this election as it has in the past - that voters are fed-up of the major parties and will send their first preferences to Hanson and her ilk to prove it.

I have no doubt they are fed up. Federal social support is failing regional Queensland and forcing programs like the Cashless Card on them. Voters won't forget the bizarre leadership spill that put Scott Morrison into the top job. Labor is faring little better in a state where the promise of a jobs bonanza like the Adani mine determines the way many vote (whether it's an empty promise or not). 

What I don't trust is how that frustration will play out in the voting booth. I suspect many of the minor party senators that do win a senate spot will screw it up inside of their first term. No one can say Hanson's tenure in the senate has been smooth sailing. A product of her party's 2016 federal tilt is now one of their biggest rivals - Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party is running candidates across a multitude of Queensland seats. 

They are both trying to capture that vote often credited as coming from the 'backwater' - regions of Queensland supposedly afraid of migration, renewable energy and well, change in general. 

I would hope our history has proven we are better than that.