Biggest Sunshine Coast political shake-up ahead?
THE Sunshine Coast faces possibly the biggest shake-up in its political history going into the next state election with boundary changes, a new seat, Peter Wellington's decision to retire in Nicklin and Steve Dickson's defection to One Nation in Buderim all contributing to factors.
The election, due early next year, will be held in an environment further destabilised by the growing animosity between the mayor's office and elected LNP members at state and federal level.
Mr Dickson, One Nation's state leader said win, lose or draw in Buderim - one of the LNP's safest seats across Australia - he believed his defection had made all Sunshine Coast seats marginal.
"The Coast is set for a shake-up," he said.
"Everyone has had a gutful of the two majors and that's not just me speaking. No one around a barbecue is saying differently.
"Is it good for the region? Yes it is. I think it's healthy."
Mr Wellington agrees a shake-up of the Coast's political landscape dominated to now, apart from himself in Nicklin, by wall to wall LNP representatives is on the cards.
And he warns that while he will be standing aside he will not step away from working against the election of any candidate he thinks does not have the electorate's best interests at heart.
After that though he will remain silent on the sidelines.
"When I first ran in 1998 I was written off by everyone except yourself and my wife Jenny," he said.
"Recent commentary by many media has all been proven wrong. I don't believe they have any idea what is happening.
"When pollsters survey views many people are cautious about what they say and how the questions have been framed to achieve what political parties want.
"The pollsters don't actively seek to determine what people think. I think some people relish playing games with the pollsters.
"I really don't think they know. They didn't get it right in Nicklin in 1998 nor in 2015."
Mr Wellington said he had stated his intention early to allow plenty of time for people to put up their hands.
"Hand on heart, whether or not I'm involved will depend on who the candidate is," he said.
"It needs to be someone with the community at heart not their own ego and who is prepared to work for the community.
"If we believe a person should not be elected we will do all we can to stop them. After that I would allow the new Member clear air. I won't be commentating from the sidelines. I don't intend to be that person."
Noosa MP Glen Elmes knows the seat well. He ran the successful campaign for Liberal candidate Bob King in 1986. Mr King held office for 12 months before the result was overturned by the Court of Disputed Returns in favour of the Nationals Neil Turner.
The late Mr Turner held Nicklin until 1998 when Mr Wellington was successful, winning on preferences flowing from Labor and One Nation candidates, after securing only 25.6% of the primary vote.
Mr Elmes said any time a sitting member retired in a regional or country area, regardless of the party, it left a void.
But he said boundary changes due to be released by Electoral Commission Queensland in the next two weeks would affect every Coast seat including Nicklin.
"It was an LNP stronghold before and could be again if we find the right candidate, with the right policies for Nicklin," Mr Elmes said.
"If we do that we are in with a chance. The Sunshine Coast could well be part of radical change (in the political landscape). It will depend on the boundaries."
What Mr Elmes is certain of is that he sees The Greens as a greater threat to his seat than One Nation or any other candidate.
"If I don't win I will be doing everything to make sure they don't," he said.
"I'm telling people to put me first and them last and to do what they like with the rest of their preferences.
"I don't want a radical left-wing political party in our state parliament. I am not going to be responsible for seeing it here."