The electoral redistribution which took the communities of Miles and Chinchilla and surrounding areas out of the Warrego electorate and put them into Callide has left some voters puzzled about who their candidates are and what they stand for.
Where the southern tongue of Callide slides across the Warrego Highway is obvious – after hundreds of kilometres of the same political signage, a whole new crop of happy corflute faces start popping up at Drillham, and make their promises until Warra.
According to the people the Queensland Country Life spoke to on the streets of Chinchilla one afternoon last week, the signage is all they know of the people they’re being asked to vote for.
When told some candidates had been in the public eye in Biloela, Biggenden and Taroom, and others were from Monto and Gin Gin, most said they had no idea and seemed at a loss to endorse people they knew very little about.
And although polling has showed One Nation has 25 per cent support in the seat held since 1998 by retiring LNP deputy leader, Jeff Seeney, belief in minor parties wasn’t largely evident in the people we questioned.
That said, neither was there praise for the major parties.
A Chinchilla local since 2005, Phillip McGuire said politicians had a habit of “throwing babies in the air” on the campaign trail and then saying nothing after the election.
He believed jobs were the main concern for the electorate, and a need to embrace clean coal technology.
“The lesser parties have good ideas but it’s only when they align themselves with a bigger party that they get anything done.”
Grazier Alan Gath was just as disillusioned.
He believed minor parties probably meant well but could say whatever people wanted to hear, without having to be put to the test.
The viability of towns and the difficulties facing small business were the main factors he was taking into account as he prepared to vote.
“I haven’t had a lot of time to think about being in this electorate, and I haven’t seen a lot of candidates,” he said.
While cattle buyer Don Hart also commented that newcomers to the electorate were having trouble knowing what the various candidates stood for, he was contemplating a change in how he voted.
“They’ve got to have strength, and that’s where the minor parties battle,” he said. “But a lot of people have had a gutful of parties not delivering on their promises.”
For Don, costs, particularly electricity, were foremost in his mind as he prepared to vote.
One Chinchilla businessman who knows for sure that he’ll be giving his vote to minor parties is John Dolling, who had KAP and One Nation signage prominent at the front of his saddlery shop, and who was displaying Law Abiding Firearm Owners voting guides to customers.
“I haven’t voted for the major parties for 30 years,” he said. “Apart from being corrupt, their policies don’t reflect the needs of the rural community.”
John believed minor parties offered the best chance the country had to improve financially.
The candidates, in ballot order, are: Monto farmer, Jaiben Baker (The Greens); Biggenden dairy farmer and North Burnett Regional councillor, Robbie Radel (KAP); Biloela CMFEU representative, Darren Blackwood (ALP); grazier and former Taroom Shire councillor, Colin Boyce (LNP); Gin Gin small business owner, Sandra Anderson (independent); and Chinchilla property owner, Sharon Lohse (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation).
- A 6.8 per cent swing against Mr Seeney and the LNP was recorded in the 2015 state election, much of which went to Palmer United Party’s John Bjelke-Petersen.
- One Nation polled well at electorate booths in the 2016 Senate election.
- As well as Miles and Chinchilla, Calliope has been added to the Callide electorate.
- The electorate has never had an ALP Member since its creation in 1950.