PEOPLE DECIDE: Rockhampton residents casting their vote in the 2015 state election at the Rockhampton State High School polling booth.
PEOPLE DECIDE: Rockhampton residents casting their vote in the 2015 state election at the Rockhampton State High School polling booth. Rachael Conaghan

Election exclusive: Poll shows shock results for Rocky

ROCKHAMPTON'S political landscape is now a lot clearer going into the state election with the Morning Bulletin exclusively releasing the latest Galaxy poll numbers.

The polling, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday night, surveyed the opinions of 515 voters in the Rockhampton electorate.

Traditionally a safe Labor stronghold with almost 53 per cent of the vote in 2015, a number of factors have combined to create a situation where the seat of Rockhampton is on a knife edge with the Labor party's candidate Barry O'Rourke now garnering only 33 per cent of the vote - a massive drop of 20 per cent.

Labour candidate for the seat of Rockhampton, Barry O'Rourke.
Labour candidate for the seat of Rockhampton, Barry O'Rourke. Chris Ison ROK171017cpreselectio

This dramatic slide in support comes after Monday's announcement by former Rockhampton Mayor and ex-Labor Party member Margaret Strelow that she would run as an Independent, with fears of her splitting Labor's voting base confirmed with her obtaining 14 per cent support.

Rockhampton's former mayor Margaret Strelow is running as an Independent candidate for the seat of Rockhampton.
Rockhampton's former mayor Margaret Strelow is running as an Independent candidate for the seat of Rockhampton. Allan Reinikka ROK061117astrelow

LNP candidate Douglas Rodger's result of 23 per cent support was a 7.3 per cent slip in LNP's fortunes from the 30.3 per cent they received in 2015.

LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers
LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers Chris Ison ROK250917cbuylocal5

One Nation didn't contest the last election but under Wade Rothery, they have debuted on the charts with a bullet, gathering stunning 21 per cent support.

One Nation candidate for Rockhampton Wade Rothery.
One Nation candidate for Rockhampton Wade Rothery. Steve Vit

The One Nation result solidifies them as an alternative to capitalise on an exodus of voters from the two major parties.

Galaxy's David Briggs said unless Wade Rothery could increase primary support between now and election day it was likely that any preferences from Margaret Strelow and the Green candidate that do not flow to Labor would favour the LNP candidate.

The Greens vote has also risen from 6.2 per cent to 9 per cent, a boost for Kate Giamarelos which could also be linked to the slide in Labor support.

Kate Giamarelos is the Greens candidate for Rockhampton in the state election.
Kate Giamarelos is the Greens candidate for Rockhampton in the state election. Contributed

Looking at the two party preferred results, the Labor party has dropped from 64 per cent in 2015 to 58 per cent and the LNP have risen from 36 per cent to 42 per cent.

These two party results are dependent upon preference deals done by the political parties and will be affected by the introduction of compulsory preference voting.

On Monday, there will be greater clarity on the direction of preferences, when pre-polling opens and candidates start handing out their how to vote cards.

With the voting results tightening up significantly, it might take several days of counting postal votes after the election to declare a victor.

Political commentator and UQ lecturer Dr Chris Salisbury shared his insight into some these issues that will have a bearing on the final election result, starting with the rise of the One Nation party.

"All the polls are showing that One Nation are doing well in certain areas,” Dr Salisbury said.

"Mainly because of a disenchantment with the major parties seems to be carrying through the regions, whether it's job opportunities or unemployment being high, the rejection of the platform of the major parties is seeing people turn to what is being portrayed as the next viable option.”

Dr Salisbury said he was seeing this voter dissatisfaction in the regional areas from Central Queensland northwards where there was a sense that not a lot has happened in terms of economic development, infrastructure projects and lack support from government.

He said we'll see the major parties attempt to address that perception by visiting the regional areas to make their funding announcements such as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's recent announcement regarding improving the state of the Bruce highway.

"There's been a lot of talk over the last three years, and certainly before that, of government being concerned enough with matters outside the south east corner,” he said.

"At different times that's been shown to be untrue or at least inaccurate but I think that sentiment is rising again.

"What One Nation are offering is a big stick to many voters who want to give either of the major parties a kick.”

Dr Salisbury said it wasn't confined to this one election, this sentiment permeated both state and federal level.

People are tired of the politicking and although he didn't know whether One Nation could or would deliver anything different, Mr Salisbury said their home spun candidates seemed to hold certain "allure” that resonated with disaffected voters.

Speaking about Mayor Margaret Strelow's decision to run as an Independent in the election, he said it was "another fly in the ointment” for Labor in seat of Rockhampton (who currently held the seat by a 14 point margin), given the popularity of the former mayor.

"It's an unwanted complication for the Labor candidate for Rockhampton (Barry O'Rourke) in an election where there are so many complications in so many electorates with preferencing and redistribution and the like,” Dr Salisbury said

"I can't say for certain that it's going to cost them the seat, we need to bear in mind that this is a very strong seat Labor seat, has been for a century or more and was one of the seven seats the party retained in the 2012 election wipe out.

"It's a real heartland, and while this will no doubt split to some extent Labor's vote, you'd anticipate that they would preference one another with votes directed back to Labor presumably.

Dr Salisbury said it would come down to what the LNP and One Nation suggest to their supporters.

"If both of those parties suggest preferencing Ms Strelow above the Labor candidate, that could prove even trickier for them to overcome,” he said.

"Ultimately it's going to come back to the voters, they'll decide which way they want to give their preferences.

"In an election where voters have to number every single box, how to vote cards are going to play a larger role than at previous elections.”



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