Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman has shrugged off the significance of a meeting with One Nation’s chief adviser, days after predicting the next government in the state would need to form a coalition with the Pauline Hanson-led party.
Mr Newman, who made history by losing the 2015 state election just three years after sweeping to victory in a landslide, has largely refrained from publicly commenting on state politics since returning to the private sector – until recently.
Mr Newman said the next Queensland election would be decided by One Nation, with polls showing voters are still undecided about both major parties, while support for Senator Hanson’s party continues to grow.
“So the next government in Queensland will have to be a coalition government with One Nation,” he said, adding that he believed Senator Hanson was an “older and wiser politician than 20 years ago”.
“You can talk preferences all you like; they are going to win enough seats,” he said.
Three days after making the comments, Mr Newman was spotted walking out of Waterfront Place in Brisbane where Senator Hanson has her offices with her chief adviser, James Ashby.
“I’m a political commentator these days,” he told Fairfax Media. “I was interested to know what their policy positions are.”
Mr Newman described the meeting as happenstance.
“I won’t deny I met him,” he said. “I do a lot of business on Waterfront Place; the lawyers and bankers I work with are there.
“I happened to see him and had a chat to him.”
Mr Newman denied he was planning a comeback to Queensland politics. His return to a commentary role has been greeted with unease by some of his former colleagues, although the move has been welcomed by his supporters within the party.
One Nation’s impact on the coming Queensland election – due by early 2018 but widely expected in September or October next year – has both major parties worried, with Labor and the LNP stepping up their regional profile.
One Nation won 23 per cent of the vote in 1998 and 11 seats in the unicameral Parliament.
Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor party governs with the support of three independents, with both the LNP and Labor holding 42 seats each.