Minor party preferences make Leichhardt 'too close to call'

Leichhardt result hard to predict according to election analyst


Federal Election National News
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Queensland's most northern federal electorate, Leichhardt is one of the marginal regional Queensland seats that are too close to call, according to the former Speaker of the state parliament.

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Queensland's most northern federal electorate, Leichhardt is one of the marginal regional Queensland seats that are too close to call, according to the former Speaker of the state parliament John Mickel.

This is because of what the now-QUT adjunct associate professor calls the eccentricities of minor party preferences.

All the marginals - Leichhardt, Dawson, Flynn, Capricornia and Herbert - have minor right wing party candidates running.

They all - Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, Clive Palmer's United Australia Party and Fraser Annings' Conservative National Party - have their home base in Queensland and are personality-based parties.

"No-one is able to predict how they will impact results, which makes Queensland so interesting," Professor Mickel said.

He added that the picture was more confused by the capacity of the minor parties to staff polling booths and hand out 'how to vote' material.

The candidates in Leichhardt are, in ballot paper order: Jo Ashby (Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party), Chad Anderson (independent), Faith Elida (ALP), Ross MacDonald (Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party), Daniel McCarthy (Katter's Australian Party), Jen Sackley (United Australia Party), Warren Entsch (LNP), and Gary Oliver (The Greens).

According to Anning's website, the party will be preferencing KAP second, One Nation third and UAP fourth.

Mr Anning entered parliament as a One Nation party member before leaving to be an independent for a time, joining KAP and then being ejected for his views on immigration.

Incumbent MP, the LNP's Warren Entsch, who holds Queensland's third-largest seat with a 3.9 per cent margin, ranks sixth on Anning candidate Jo Ashby's 'how to vote' suggestions, above only the ALP and The Greens.

Leichhardt MP and LNP candidate Warren Entsch.

Leichhardt MP and LNP candidate Warren Entsch.

Mr Entsch said in 2016, all candidates, including Mr McCarthy, preferenced against him.

"Fraser and One Nation are only there to harvest Senate votes," he said. "And Jen Sackley (UAP) stood against me in 2010 and got done over like a dinner - I've got no doubt it's all about the Senate again."

The seat, with most of the voters coming from metropolitan Cairns, is described by ABC election analyst Antony Green as "something of a bellwether electorate" because the person elected has been a member of the successful party at every election since 1972.

He said Leichhardt had a history of sitting members building a strong personal following, demonstrated in 1998 when Mr Entsch kept the anti-coalition swing down to 0.5pc, the smallest in the state.

However, KAP candidate Daniel McCarthy says that's not something Mr Entsch can rely on anymore.

"I've been getting phenomenal feedback," he said. "It's a long time since Entsch has been popular up here."

Leichhardt Katter's Australian Party candidate Daniel McCarthy.

Leichhardt Katter's Australian Party candidate Daniel McCarthy.

He ran as an independent in the 2016 federal election before joining Katter's Australian Party last year, saying trying to get elected as an independent was almost impossible.

A Cairns local, Mr McCarthy is closely aligned with the fishing industry and sits on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Tourism and Recreational Advisory Committee.

He's been running a campaign that has focused on the reef and tourism issues, saying an end must be put to the "lies that the Great Barrier Reef is dead" and calling for a thorough forensic audit of taxpayer money being spent on the reef to date.

The reef is also a theme for Labor's candidate for Leichhardt Elida Faith, who said 64,000 local jobs rely on it. The ALP has committed an additional $100 million to secure funding for marine and reef science in Far North Queensland.

Among Mr Entsch's messages are the ALP's 'Retirees Tax' that he said would affect more than 4400 older Australians living in Far North Queensland.

He said opposing candidates were commenting on his support for same-sex marriage and medicinal cannibas but he was happy to be known as someone who didn't discriminate.

Assistance for veterans, home insurance, indigenous housing and water management are other issues of the campaign.

And the result? Professor Mickel said the bookies had Labor losing Herbert and the government keeping Capricornia and losing the rest.

"(But) William Bowe's aggregate track of all polling since 2016 shows the Coalition losing all its marginal regional seats and the opposition retaining Herbert," he said.

"Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's launch was in Queensland because of the high numbers of marginal seats in play.

"At the same time, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is relying upon fortress Queensland, which usually delivers an overwhelming majority of federal seats to the Coalition - currently 21 of the 30 Queensland seats.

"The last time Labor won a majority of seats in Queensland was in 2007 under opposition leader, Kevin Rudd; a Queenslander."

Leichhardt candidates in ballot order:

  • ASHBY, Jo (Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party)
  • ANDERSON, Chad (Independent)
  • FAITH, Elida (Australian Labor Party)
  • MACDONALD, Ross (Pauline Hanson's One Nation)
  • McCARTHY, Daniel (Katter's Australian Party)
  • SACKLEY, Jen (United Australia Party)
  • ENTSCH, Warren (LNP)
  • OLIVER, Gary (The Greens)
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