by Tobi Loftus
FORMER One Nation and Independent Nanango MP Dorothy Pratt has said no one should take the electorate for granted at the next election.
"History shows Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was the last true National representative of the area," Mrs Pratt said.
"Trevor Perrett then won the seat for the Citizens Electoral Council after Joh left, which showed people here weren't just going to tow party lines, they'd make up their own minds.
"Then I stood in 1998, I went for One Nation and that proved that people were still on the road to being independent thinkers, they wouldn't do what they were told to do. I was then re-elected as an independent four times, which showed people were happy to vote alternatively to the major parties."
Now with a state election looming, a recent ReachTEL poll showed current MP Deb Frecklington's support sat around 37.4%, a drop of 10% since the last election, while One Nation support sat at 28.3%.
Mrs Pratt said Mrs Frecklington had a challenge on her hands to hold the seat.
"This election to me is an open ball game, anyone can win this one," she said.
"If you want to look at Deb's support, if it has dropped as the polls say, then she could be well and truly in trouble."
Michael Evans served as the State Director of the National Party from 1970 to 1983, during the prime Joh Bjelke-Petersen years. He witnessed first hand the rise of One Nation in the South Burnett and Queensland in 1998, predicting Pauline Hanson's party would win between 10 and 12 seats in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. They won 11.
"I came up to Kingaroy for the One Nation campaign launch," he said.
"When I got to the town hall it was packed to the rafters. I looked around and a number of people were members of the National party, I thought God almighty."
Mr Evans said major political parties needed to work hard to bring back the trust of the voters who had deserted them for One Nation and other minor parties.
"You need to apply some real meaning to the slogans, to attract voters back," he said.
"You need detailed plans for projects."
Mr Evans said it would be a tragedy for the area to lose Mrs Frecklington as their local representative.
"Deb Frecklington is a very, very, good person," Mr Evans said.
"She is an excellent person to represent regional Queensland in cabinet.
"The truth is it will be a tough task for her and it will be a tragedy if she loses her seat."
Mr Evans said he predicted One Nation would win about 15 seats at the next State Election.
Despite Mrs Frecklington winning the seat for the LNP in 2012 and being the only LNP candidate to have a swing towards her in 2015, Queensland University of Technology justice school Associate Professor John Mickel, who also served as a Minister in the Beattie and Bligh governments, said the support for smaller parties and independents in the area had never gone away.
"There is no doubt that when things are tough in parts of regional and rural Queensland people feel dissatisfied with the major parity," Professor Mickel said.
"In Queensland in 2012 there was the major dissatisfaction with the Bligh Government leading to the decimation of the Labor party. Then there was the huge dissatisfaction with the LNP leading to an unheard of one term government with Campbell Newman.
"If people are disappointed in Regional Queensland with the government, they are also disappointed in the opposition. That's what you tend to get that when both sides have been in government a short amount of time and people feel economic circumstances haven't improved. People will then put their vote with someone who isn't the major parities."
One Nation candidate Douglas Grant said for the most part people are voting for Pauline Hanson, not for him.
"I'm here to support One Nation and Pauline Hanson, but I do have ideas," he said.
Mr Grant said issues such as power prices, car registration bills and political donations were driving people away from the major parties.
Professor Mickel said he believed Mrs Frecklington would be able to hold on to the seat.
Mrs Pratt said for Mrs Frecklington the stakes were high.
"I think she could be Premier one day if she holds the seat, but it's all in that big if," she said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is yet to call the state election, though it has to be held before May next year.