One Nation’s WA Test – Disaster or Success?

“One Nation’s result was a disaster” says the media.

“It was a success” say One Nation supporters.

There are clearly two points of views on the recent results of One Nation. The media are spinning it towards a negative point of view whilst One Nation – rightly so – are spruiking it towards a more positive light.

As of Sunday 12th March, One Nation polled 4.7% of the state vote. This, on face value, is a disaster for One Nation considering they were polling around 12% a couple of months ago and that the struggling Greens Party polled 8.5%. On the other hand, six months ago One Nation in WA was nothing but a two-member band, Ron Mclean and Marye Louise Daniels were running the show with the Party going on a membership drive to get registered. Therefore, if you look at it in this light, last night was a success for One Nation.

One Nation stood 45 candidates in the Lower House (albeit some candidates had resigned or were dis-endorsed) and ran candidates in the upper house. Their results in 2017 compared to the last time they were successful – in 2001 – was dismal. In 2001, One Nation gained 9.58% of the state primary vote. The difference then compared to now is that One Nation was an established party. They had a proper State Executive with active local branches being able to assist their candidates on the campaign trail and to assist on election day. The other factor is pre-poll was not around back then, therefore you wouldn’t lose votes if you had limited number of volunteers prior to election day. Preference deals were not an issue in 2001 as both major political parties pledged to put One Nation last therefore One Nation had a split How to Vote Card. That is, on one side they preferenced Labor and on the other side the Liberals, this put the onus back onto the voter.

Finally, they had more candidates in the lower house and they seemed very disciplined compared to 2017. In 2001, despite gaining 9.58%, One Nation was only able to achieve three upper house seats: one for the Agricultural Region (Frank Hough – who was the State Director at the time); one for Mining and Pastoral Region (John Fischer – who was the National Vice President and Leader of WA One Nation) and one in the Southwest Region (Paddy Embry). If you look at Hansard these three members of One Nation were an asset, however, due to infighting in 2002/03 they were forced to resign from One Nation and went separate ways. Subsequently all three lost their seats in 2004.

Frank Hough, John Fischer, Paddy Embry

West Australians won’t get the results for the Legislative Council for at least another week however to date (12/03/2017) One Nation has received approximately 7.10% of the primary vote in the Legislative Council compared to 9.88% they received in 2001. Despite the decrease of support since 2001, they have outpolled their regional foes – WA Nationals – who have received 4.17%.

These results are promising for One Nation and depending on preferences they could gain three upper house MPs. I predict a repeat of 2001 with the possibility of holding the balance of power.

All in all, it’s not all bad news. Mainstream media hyped the One Nation phenomenon which gave a lot of people false hope. The matter of fact is, One Nation was never going to do as good as what we all though due to:

Poor organisational structure.

Poor choice of candidates.

Lack of volunteers.

Limited time constraints.

Different electoral procedures such as pre-poll.

In essence it is a blessing in disguise that One Nation was unable to get a large number of people elected into Parliament. As the Queensland Liberal National Party and Country Liberal Party in Northern Territory experienced that if you have a large number of members elected into Parliament it is harder for the Party to maintain discipline.

Whatever the number of successful members One Nation is able to get into the Legislative Council their focus should be on party structure and how to engage the membership so that they remain motivated. Next WA State Election will be the real test for One Nation.

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