Queensland Opposition leader Tim Nicholls has been forced to tip-toe through a political minefield after the LNP indicated it would preference One Nation ahead of Labor at the next election.
While the move could boost the LNP’s vote it also re-exposes the conservatives to old criticisms about dealing with Pauline Hanson’s party.
LNP president Gary Spence strongly hinted that One Nation would be placed higher than the ALP on LNP how-to-vote cards.
“While I agree with the state leader that we need to listen to our branches and our members, I think the overwhelming majority of them will agree that we need to put Labor and the Greens last at the next state election,” Mr Spence said.
“We won’t be getting into bed with One Nation, what we’re doing is sending a message that Queensland simply can’t afford another three years of this Labor government.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Labor would put One Nation last, and accused the LNP of seeking Senator Hanson’s electoral assistance.
“I’m very disappointed that Tim Nicholls would be talking about preference shares at this early stage with One Nation, and obviously what Tim Nicholls wants is a Nicholls-Hanson government,” she said.
Mr Nicholls denied that and said he disagreed with many things Senator Hanson said, but also acknowledged that many voters backed One Nation.
“We have to respect the views that people have in supporting Pauline Hanson,” he said.
But he said no decision had been made about preferences.
“We don’t want to be winning elections on just preference deals,” he said.
“We want to be able to say we won elections based clearly on policies that were accepted by the people of Queensland at a fair general election.”
Former National party premier Rob Borbidge lost government in 1998 at the height of One Nation’s success and was frustrated by the Nationals’ dealings with Senator Hanson’s party in the following election.
But he said the Palaszczuk government’s decision to reintroduce full preferential voting was a different circumstance to his experiences.
“Back when I had my adventures with One Nation it was optional preferential voting,” Mr Borbidge said.
“And if we look at the last state election, I note that the Labor Party preferenced One Nation ahead of the LNP at least in one seat.”
Full preferential voting will be compulsory at the next election, after the Palaszczuk Labor Government decided to scrap optional preferencing.
More women candidates needed, LNP convention told
Mr Spence also urged party members to choose more female candidates.
The message was delivered at the opening of the party’s annual convention in Brisbane, which continues over this weekend.
The preselection process for LNP candidates will commence soon.
“It is critical that we preselect women into many of the target seats that we intend fighting hard for at the next state election,” he said.
“Now we have a number of great women already representing us in the State Parliament — Deb Frecklington, Fiona Simpson, Ros Bates, Tracy Davis — to name but a few, but we need to do much, much more.”
Mr Spence said he would be working hard to ensure Mr Nicholls became premier at the next election.