Election 2016: Right-wing preferences lifted Labor in marginals

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    Federal election 2016: Right preferences lifted Labor in marginals

    Jared Owens

    Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party issued how-to-vote cards at the federal election advocating for Labor.

    Labor’s success against Coalition MPs in marginal seats was underpinned by a flood of preferences from right-wing candidates who instructed their supporters to punish Malcolm Turnbull.

    Many of the voters, lured to fringe parties with promises to block Muslim immigration and abolish multiculturalism, followed how-to-vote cards that favoured Labor candidates who would double the refugee intake and celebrate cultural diversity.

    Analysis by The Weekend Australian suggests conservative minor party preferences were crucial in toppling Wyatt Roy in Longman and Fiona Scott in Lindsay, and have dragged Ewen Jones’s battle in the Townsville seat of Herbert to the wire.

    Preferences from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party damaged Liberal MPs Louise Markus in Macquarie and Natasha Griggs in Solomon, and Liberal Democrat preferences helped to cut Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s margin in the Brisbane seat of Dickson. The tactic was most pronounced in Longman, north of Brisbane, where minor party preferences fomented a 1449-vote defeat for Mr Roy, a prominent backer of Mr Turnbull’s leadership ambitions.

    More than 10,000 votes in Longman were cast for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the Australian Liberty Alliance and conservative independent Greg Riddell — all of whom directed preferences to Labor — while Family First gave no instructions to its roughly 3000 supporters as to preferences.

    One Nation’s Longman candidate Michelle Pedersen said she was unaware her party-issued how-to-vote cards advocated for Labor, but said both major parties were equally untrustworthy.

    “Pauline was a Liberal member once and was shafted by them, so I think that’s where the decision would have come from,” Ms Pedersen, who got 8212 votes, said.

    One Nation spokesman James Ashby did not respond to written questions about the party’s motivations. Mr Riddell said he was motivated by Mr Roy’s role in deposing Tony Abbott. “The public have had enough of people who think they can remove prime ministers and deny the public their right to pass judgment on their leaders,” said Mr Riddell, who claimed Mr Turnbull lionised Mao Zedong and had recent Greens activists among his top advisers.

    Ms Scott, another Turnbull-backer, lost Lindsay by 1691 votes after being undermined by Penrith councillor Marcus Cornish, who quit the Liberal Party and ran as an independent. Mr Cornish, an anti-mosque campaigner endorsed by former MP Jackie Kelly, directed his 2032 supporters to back Labor’s Emma Husar. Mr Cornish said Mr Abbott was very popular in western Sydney and his removal by Ms Scott and others was “the icing on the cake” that convinced him to stand as an independent.

    He also said that, unlike Mr Abbott, the Prime Minister had been reluctant to attend local party fundraisers.

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