The seat of Dawson is currently held by George Christensen.
The seat of Dawson is currently held by George Christensen.

LNP maverick hanging by a thread

A QUICK LOOK AT DAWSON: 

Incumbent: George Christensen

Margin: 3.4 per cent

Candidates

LNP: George Christensen

Labor: Belinda Hassan, a small business manager and domestic violence support worker

One Nation: Deb Lawson, a real estate agent and former hairdresser

KAP: Brendan Bunyan, mechanic and diesel fitter

UAP: Colin Thompson

Local issues

Coal mining will be a key policy issue with the industry employing 6.5 per cent of workers in Dawson. The sugar industry could also play a role in the election, with farmers angry at prices they're getting paid by multinational companies.

Jobs, cost of living pressures and infrastructure will also be big issues.

LNP ROGUE CHRISTENSEN IN TOUGH FIGHT

Pauline Hanson's One Nation will be the biggest wildcard factor in the fight to claim Dawson, which is currently held by maverick LNP member George Christensen.

One Nation claimed a massive 31.39 per cent of the vote in the state seat of Burdekin at the 2017 Queensland election and 22.7 per cent of the vote in Mackay.

It'll be a tough ask but if the party claims more votes than Labor, which nabbed 32.79 per cent of the primary vote in the 2016 election, Dawson could be a contest between One Nation and the LNP.

THE OTHER SEATS TO WATCH IN QUEENSLAND

CAPRICORNIA: Huge battle set for marginal seat

DICKSON: Peter Dutton's fight to the death

FLYNN: Wildcards could cause upset result

FORDE: Labor eyes snatching seat off LNP

HERBERT: Seat could turn on just 19 votes

PETRIE: Howarth hopes for a third miracle

The seat of Dawson is currently held by George Christensen.
The seat of Dawson is currently held by George Christensen.

But Labor is expected to benefit from a general swing against the government and could potentially claim the seat - particularly if it benefits from One Nation preference flows.

Christensen's best hope is that he's seen as a strong local member and a bit of a rebel in the Liberal-National Party.

Visits from high-profile party leaders during the campaign could also help his case.

But One Nation's presence will be a headache for him if it claims a portion of the conservative vote that would traditionally go to the LNP.

Scott Morrison's decision to preference One Nation below Labor will also being weighing on Christensen's mind, in case Hanson decides to retaliate.

Belinda Hassan, the Labor candidate for Dawson. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Belinda Hassan, the Labor candidate for Dawson. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Griffith University political expert Paul Williams told News Corp he expected Christensen to "very narrowly hang on".

"Sitting on 3.4 per cent, this might be a fraction out of Labor's reach - especially if populists' preferences don't flow to Labor (but I think they will at 50-50)," Dr Williams said.

"George Christensen, like Dutton, is very high profile and has won friends over early support for the banking royal commission but he's also polarising and has many detractors.

"The populist vote here won't be as high because George already services that populism. I'd expect George to very narrowly hang on."

 

 

Political analyst Malcolm MacKerras. Picture: Supplied
Political analyst Malcolm MacKerras. Picture: Supplied

Veteran psephologist Malcolm Mackerras, a visiting fellow at the Australian Catholic University, tipped Labor to win Dawson along with other marginal Queensland seats including Petrie, Dickson, Capricornia, Forde, Flynn, and Bonner.

But he added that he "would not be surprised" if one or two of the LNP sitting members held on "for local or personal reasons". "I am not willing to name seats in that regard," he said.

Australian National University politics expert Jill Sheppard did not comment on either party's chances but said: "George Christensen sums up so much of the Coalition's problems at the moment."

"Are they fiscally conservative and social liberal parties, as a lot of voters seem to expect? Or are they, in Christensen's mould, financially nationalistic and socially conservative?"

WHAT VOTERS WANT

Power prices, jobs in North Queensland and aid for drought-stricken farmers are hot-button issues for Dawson voters.

Support for the coal industry and mining jobs are other issues getting traction for current Member for Dawson George Christensen.

A social media analysis by Storyful Australia shows Christensen is also outstripping Labor candidate Belinda Hassan in terms of cut through with voters online.

WHAT WILL SWAY THE VOTE IN QUEENSLAND

Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton may be unsafe in Dickson, but the Liberals' asylum-seeker policy push is likely to secure votes in the sunshine state as concerns for border protection and immigration heat up, political scientist Dr Paul Williams says.

Both of the major parties will need to lift their game if they want to win over Queensland's 'mini-states' ahead of election day and job security, cost of living, economy and infrastructure are issues residents want to hear.

The state's divided, yet strong views on border control, refugee policy and the Adani coal mine are sure to be vote securing in the north.

Dr Williams said the party leaders should be spending more time in regional Queensland to show they understand residents needs there are different to Brisbane.

Outside the city, asylum-seeker chatter gets louder, fuelled by the likes of Senator Fraser Anning and Bob Katter.

Dr Williams said Dickson was not a safe seat and Dutton would be in for a fight, but "if and when Dutton goes down he will only just lose."

"The asylum seeker debate has reignited and it's caught the attention of the electorates and Queensland is the most sensitive state to that," he said, adding that refugee policy would be a good talking point for Scott Morrison in the state.

Political scientist Dr Paul Williams of Griffith University says Queensland and Victoria are the key states in this year’s federal election.
Political scientist Dr Paul Williams of Griffith University says Queensland and Victoria are the key states in this year’s federal election.

He noted Morrison had struggled to win fans in Brisbane, still bitter about losing Malcolm Turnbull as PM.

Dr Williams does not foresee Liberal success in Queensland this time round.

But some, like Warren Entsch in Leichhardt, will likely be spared the swing.

He also pointed out the state isn't a huge fan of Bill Shorten either, despite state Labor's success under Annastacia Palaszczuk.

He said the opposition could not rely on her to help them secure a federal win.

Green issues like protection of the Great Barrier Reef is important to Queensland and Shorten has gained support over his opposition of the Adani coal mine after Palaszczuk won the state election when she changed her tune, declaring Labor would not fund it.

"It clearly turned the election for her," Dr Williams said.

"It's very interesting to see how Bill Shorten was more anti-Adani than the Queensland government," he said.

"Certainly the resistance to Adani has grown astronomically in the last two years and there's a huge level of scepticism."

Dr Williams expected Shorten to stick with anti-Adani in his fight as he works to firm up Greens preferences.

"I expect Morrison to lose and Shorten to form government based on Queensland and Victoria result alone," he said.

- Additional reporting by Natasha Christian

Australian National University politics expert Dr Jill Sheppard. Picture: ANU
Australian National University politics expert Dr Jill Sheppard. Picture: ANU
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Her shift on Adani turned the state election in her favour, Williams says. Picture: Chris McCormack
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Her shift on Adani turned the state election in her favour, Williams says. Picture: Chris McCormack