Excuse me? Palaszczuk and her rivals will have to listen carefully to undecided voters.
Excuse me? Palaszczuk and her rivals will have to listen carefully to undecided voters. DARREN ENGLAND

Swingers and fence-sitters get party leaders' attention

WILL it play in Pindi Pindi? How about Pittsworth?

A three-way people's forum with state party leaders and 100 undecided voters should shed some light on Queensland's voter fault lines.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, LNP frontman Tim Nicholls and One Nation Leader Steve Dickson will try to enthuse the voters on Thursday night at the Broncos Leagues Club in Red Hill.

Personality will be a pulling factor for some swing voters, Griffith University's Dr Paul Williams said.

"Most swing voters tend to be swayed by what we call short-term effects, that can be as simple as 'how does the leader look and sound'?”

"Palaszczuk has been Labor's best asset and in some cases you might say only asset.”

Many people viewed her as a "nice lady who's honest and hard-working,” Dr Williams said.

So any attacks from other leaders on her integrity will elicit a vehement response.

Queensland LNP and Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls speaks during Question Time at Parliament House in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 23, 2017. (AAP Image/Darren England) NO ARCHIVING
Nicholls might be too "urbane” for some regional voters, Dr Paul Williams reckons. DARREN ENGLAND

Mr Nicholls at least had run a relatively positive campaign.

But he was personally too "smooth” and urbane for many regional voters, Dr Williams said, so will rely on talking up the LNP as a "sound economic manager” and a unified, competent party.

As for Mr Dickson, until not that long ago, nobody outside Buderim other than the "political class” knew he existed.

Dr Williams said there was not much Mr Dickson could do other than tap into discontent at regional elites.

One Nation MP Steve Dickson and Member for Buderim holds a press conference at the Headland Golf Club responding to the announcement of the Queensland State Election date on November 25, 2017.
One Nation MP Steve Dickson will hope to increase his profile and win over the swingers. Warren Lynam

In recent weeks his profile had grown enormously - but Pauline Hanson was still the one calling the shots, Dr Williams said.

"It's not his race to run. The One Nation campaign is very much about Pauline.”

UQ professor Katharine Gelber said the big party leaders will be loath to signal deals with One Nation.

"Experience has shown that that is going to tarnish them.”

She said One Nation's Fraser Anning defection fiasco this week exposed party discipline problems.

"They don't have any party discipline and Pauline Hanson's individualist control of the party is resented by other party members,” Professor Gelber added.

"Having said that, I don't know whether their voters mind.”

Some issues transcend regional differences, Dr Williams said.

"How good is my local school? How good is my local hospital?”

Cost of living and infrastructure concerns are broad too, but then things start diverging, he said.

In the southeast, law and order did not have the traction it had during the Newman years, when issues like VLAD laws were hot.

But youth crime was a major issue now for many northern voters.

Attitudes varied about environmental issues, Dr Williams added.

"Adani has been a polarising issue. In north and west Queensland, the environment is less important, unless you're part of the tourism community.”

Politicians had to tailor their message to resonate with unique local concerns.

For example, the "Sunshine Coast is not economically disadvantaged like Townsville,” he said.

In Toowoomba, the One Nation vote will be "reasonable but probably not as high as if you go further West.”

Galaxy Research sourced 100 undecided voters to put questions to the leaders. -NewsRegional

  • The Sky News and Courier Mail People's Forum debate will play out on Sky News channel 601 on Foxtel from 7pm and livestream at couriermail.com.au.