Sydney finds way to portray Gympie as One Nation stronghold
A SYDNEY newspaper article, "You don't want to be a Nazi but you are what you allow: voters explain the appeal of Pauline Hanson” and based largely on the comments of a Gympie businesswoman has been met with mixed results in the region today.
Incumbent LNP candidate Llew O'Brien said it was impossible to deny the strong support for right leaning minor parties in the region.
"We are very patriotic here in Australia and there is a feeling locally our Australian values are being eroded and we are becoming too politically correct, and I think that translates into people quite often voting for these sorts of parties,” he said.
He said many people resonated with 80 per cent of what the minor parties offered, but 20 per cent of those parties' dogmas were not so palatable.
"Virtually none of these minor party candidates, including One Nation, Fraser Anning, Palmer and the Greens, actually live in Wide Bay,” he also said.
Wide Bay Greens candidate Daniel Bryar said Gympie was full of good, honest and hard-working people who felt ignored and let down by the major parties.
”They're struggling with the lack of job opportunities, cuts to essential services such as health and education, and unaffordable housing,” he said.
"The Greens have a bold, positive plan to invest in renewables to create clean energy jobs for our community and lower power bills, restore funding to our education and health services and provide free to low-cost access to essential services, and build 500,000 affordable homes.
"One Nation's message promotes hatred and division in our community.
"What we need are positive policies that bring our community together and give people hope for a better future. Along with the major parties, One Nation's policies support the status quo and only benefit big corporations and their wealthy donors, not the community they're supposed to represent.”
Gympie MP Tony Perrett said up to 30 per cent of the Gympie vote tended to drift between parties like One Nation, Katter's Party and the "various incarnations” of Clive Palmer's parties.
"Gympie residents are plain speaking, modest, hard working families who cringe at wasteful government spending, and proudly celebrate their strong family values,” he said.
"They are proud of the traditions and values which underpin our society and reject the obsessions of the anti-Australian brigade of activists who say it is an insult to demonstrate national pride, celebrate our heritage, our history, our industries, and the country that we love.”
Little Haven business manager Sue Manton said she found Pauline Hanson's views repugnant.
”I favour a more inclusive society, where those that have look out for those that are less fortunate, hence I'm drawn to a profession where care without prejudice is the core,” she said. "The irony is people who are struggling to make ends meet think One Nation and minor parties will help where the major parties have failed them but the reality is Pauline Hanson's voting record in the Senate proves she is not representing 'the battlers' at all.
”People listen to the rhetoric, media and advertising and sadly believe it without looking at their actual record. If they did there is no way Clive Palmer or One Nation would receive one vote.”
The SMH article quoted Mary St hair salon owner Ina Wagner saying:
"People here stick to basics, they're basic people. They're not flash, they don't believe in any media [or] what they're being told. They see what happens and they don't like it,” she says.
"No one wants black Somalis robbing people. No one wants break-ins. They want drugs off the streets. They're basic common interests that we have. Most people here don't give a sh-- if we save $25 a year on power or something we're not interested in it. We want those robbers off the streets. Basically they just want things how they were 10 years ago.
"I'm turning more towards being more patriotic,” she says in the article, which appeared on the SMH website and Brisbane Times.
"Because I feel every society that's not patriotic is going under. Look at Europe, look at everyone else. History repeats itself, so if you don't look after yourself first people go under.
"The main contribution would be not enough patriotism and sticking to what your beliefs are, and inviting everybody else's beliefs to a percentage which is too high. You don't want to be a Nazi, but you have to be careful what you allow, because you are what you allow.”
The SMH article goes on to report:
Wagner estimates 40 per cent of her clients are One Nation voters, and Gympie is a real base for the party. It elected a One Nation MP to the Queensland Parliament in 2001, Elisa Roberts, who later quit and sat as an independent. At the last state election it came down to the Liberal National Party versus One Nation, though the LNP won.
The surrounding federal electorate of Wide Bay gave One Nation a primary vote of 15.6 per cent at the 2016 election. In 1998, at the first peak of Hansonism, it was 26 per cent.
In the adjoining electorate of Hinkler, further north, One Nation's primary vote in 2016 was 19.2 per cent - second only to Wright, around the Gold Coast hinterland, with 20.9 per cent.
Hinkler is also the poorest seat in the country. It has the nation's lowest median household income, $947 a week, about 40 per cent of highest-earning electorate, Sydney's Warringah.
For the record, crime in Gympie is not dramatically higher than it was in the early 2000s. Queensland Police statistics show offences have climbed from an average of about 2500 to 3000 a year over that period.