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He lived for One Nation, now Jim dreams of tearing them down


Jim Savage was more than Pauline Hanson’s right-hand man, he kept One Nation going during its darkest times — now he is running against the party as an independent in the Queensland election.

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It has been conservative heartland since the 1950s, but during this election the seat of Lockyer will be a battleground for right-leaning candidates.

The seat west of Brisbane is held by Jim McDonald for the Liberal National Party (LNP) with a margin of 4.1 per cent. But the contest for conservative voters is set to be even tighter this year with both Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party standing candidates.

Add former One Nation state president Jim Savage into the mix as an independent and this seat will be one to watch when Queenslanders go to the polls on October 31.

Jim Savage was once more than Pauline Hanson’s right-hand man. He kept One Nation going during its darkest times.

But now, he is running against the party he once “loved”.

Savage, who was a member of One Nation for 23 years, will compete against its candidate, Corey West, incumbent Jim McDonald (LNP), Janet Butler (Australian Labor Party), Andrew Rockliff (Clive Palmer’s UAP) and Rebecca Haley (The Greens).

Griffith University political commentator Dr5 Paul Williams predicts Savage will split the “populist right” vote.

“The fact that One Nation has run against him [Jim Savage] has made it difficult for One Nation and it’s made it even more difficult for Jim Savage,” Williams said

“So they both have a struggle on their hands.”

Williams predicted the LNP would narrowly retain the seat, which he said was crucial for the party to be able to form government.

“It could be touch and go for the LNP … it just depends on how large that One Nation vote is,” he said.

“They [voters] might have questions over immigration, they might have questions over post-political values such as climate change and same-sex marriage, which is again ripe for conservative backlash.”

Labor, which received just 22 per cent of the primary vote in 2017, and The Greens are not expected to make the top three candidates according to Williams, but it is believed preferences will be key to the overall result.

Party abandons conservative base

Savage claimed One Nation had abandoned the core issues of the “working class”, and accused the party of ignoring its members’ and candidates’ views.

“I loved One Nation, I love the policies, I wrote a lot of them, along with my policy committee and our branches,” Savage said.

“I believe that One Nation is now a fan club for the federal advancement of one person, Pauline Hanson, unfortunately.

“The fiscal management has been appalling — we haven’t had a State Treasurer’s Report for three years,” Savage claimed.

He said the number of people who attended meetings had dwindled.

He has accused the party of running candidates in as many electorates as possible to collect electoral funding, which is almost $3 per vote for any candidate who receives at least 4 per cent of first preferences.

“It is a money-collecting mechanism to fund the federal politicians, in One Nation’s case anyway,” he said.

The ABC has contacted One Nation multiple times for a response to Savage’s comments.

‘It breaks my heart to do it’

Despite his grievances, Savage said he did not want to see the end of the party.

“It’s a shame that, you know, I’m running against the love of my life — One Nation,” he said.

Williams said One Nation was polling poorly in opinion polls and warned its future was uncertain with no plans beyond Pauline Hanson’s leadership.

“In times of crisis, or in terms of the big policy or big picture election you see voters move from the margins back to the centre,” he said.

“Many, many former members of parliament, candidates, grassroots members have lost interest in the party and have resigned from the party.

“It’s a very top-down authoritative structure and that tends to make it a wobbly tower and wobbly towers, as we know, tend to fall over.”

– ABC / Elly Bradfield

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