SEA CHANGE: Keppel relocation for key One Nation candidate
A FASCINATING political battle looms for the seat of Keppel in the 2020 state election after prominent One Nation candidate Wade Rothery relocated to Yeppoon and announced plans to contest the seat.
The ex-NRL playing coal miner has made a splash in recent years, finishing second in the 2017 state election contesting Rockhampton (losing by 3164 votes) and finishing third in Capricornia (17 per cent of the primary vote) in this year's federal election.
The 2017 state election saw Keppel go to the wire with One Nation's Matt Loth finishing in second place, losing to incumbent MP Brittany Lauga by less than 2000 votes.
Mr Rothery attributed family as the key reason behind his move.
"I've always called Rockhampton home, however my wife has called Yeppoon her second home after she moved up from the Sunshine Coast 20 years ago," Mr Rothery said.
"Many of my colleagues in Moranbah have relocated their families to the Capricorn Coast over the past twelve months following the Livingstone Shire Council's opening of the Yeppoon Lagoon.
"For my wife and I, Keppel has so much going for it."
With Keppel now a very winnable seat Mr Rothery was not fooling himself into assuming that he would be given a clear run to contest the seat.
He said he respected the party's pre-selection process and hoped to receive the nod from local party members and senior executives.
The father of four has spent the majority of his 44 years in Central Queensland and predicts a major shakeup in the local political landscape following Labor's shocking lack of support for the coal mining sector.
"Actions speak louder than works and every one of my work mates in the coal mining industry know they've been abandoned by Labor," he said.
"I don't want the region over-developed, but I want projects on Great Keppel Island to go ahead along with major road upgrades, support for local business, job opportunities for our kids, additional boat ramps, an increased focus on tourism and a chance to finally put Keppel on the map."
One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson said she always preferred candidates to live in the region they're hoping to represent.
"I believe Wade has made the right decision to nominate for Keppel," Senator Hanson said.
"Wade's understanding of the Capricorn Coast was evident during this years federal election.
"The electorates of Keppel and Rockhampton compliment one another in so many ways, so I think Wade's knowledge of both seats will only help him in the next state election if he wins pre-selection."
Senator Hanson said Keppel was strongly represented by Matt Loth at the last state election, but she could understand why he was keen to focus on his family with a new baby on the way and another under the age of four.
"Matt remains a member of the party and has already said he's excited about assisting in the campaign," she said.
"I understand the head office has received at least one other nomination, but the decision of who will represent the region will be left to a rigorous vetting and pre-selection process."
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said she was looking forward to next year's election contest.
"I have a strong record of delivering more jobs, improved health services and schools in Keppel as a member of the Palaszczuk Government," Mrs Lauga said.
"I would like to see more women candidates in Keppel though. In the last two elections (2015 and 2017) I have been the only woman on the Keppel ballot paper."
One Nation nominations for the seat of Keppel close August 31.