Anti-Muslim Party Poised to Win Seats in Queensland ElectionBy
One Nation could hold balance of power if no clear winner
Premier calls snap election for last weekend in November
A snap election in Australia’s Queensland is poised to show a surge in support for populists in the traditionally conservative state.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asked the state’s acting governor to dissolve parliament on Sunday before announcing a Nov. 25 vote. The election is likely to be tight, with the balance of power potentially going to Pauline Hanson’s anti-Muslim immigration party One Nation: its estimated 18 percent support state-wide may be even higher among disaffected voters in regional areas.
Parts of resource-rich Queensland are still recovering from the end of a once-in-a-generation mining investment boom, with the state’s unemployment level increasing to 5.9 percent last month, the country’s second-highest. While 125,000 jobs have been created since Palaszczuk formed a minority government in 2015, just 24,000 of them have been full-time.
“I’m calling this election to give business and industry in our great state the certainty they need as we approach 2018,” Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane. “I’m asking Queenslanders for their support so my government can continue the job that we have started together.”
Palaszczuk called the election after disendorsing one of her lawmakers on Friday, leaving both her ruling Labor Party and the opposition Liberal-National coalition with 41 seats each. Either party needs 47 to govern in its own right. One Nation is fielding candidates in around 60 of the 93 seats up for grabs, and Palaszczuk has previously ruled out governing with the party.
Hanson came to Australia’s Senate dressed in a burqa in August, before removed her head covering to demand the government ban the garment in public places, claiming it could be used to abet terrorism plots. As well as banning Muslim migration to Australia, she wants to install closed-circuit cameras in mosques and hold a widespread public inquiry into Islam.