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Nationalists facing wipe out in Australian state election
November 26, 2017 / 3:11 AM / 15 days ago

Nationalists facing wipe out in Australian state election

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The resurgence of Australian nationalist politics has been halted at a state election in coal-rich Queensland, with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party at risk of being almost completely wiped from the state assembly.

Australia’s centre-left Labor party is leading in the tight race after three-quarters of votes were counted following Saturday’s poll, while Hanson’s party has yet to confirm victory in a single seat.

The official result may not be known for several days although political analysts believe Labor will win the 47 seats it needs to govern in Queensland 93-seat assembly, a result that would allow it to form a government without support from independents or minor parties.

“I am confident of a Labor majority,” Queensland’s Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Sunday.

Hanson, a senator in the federal parliament, had anticipated a surge in support in her electoral heartland, to give momentum to the resurgence her anti-immigration, populist party enjoyed in the national election last year.

But despite attracting support from around 14 percent of voters, One Nation has not recorded decisive victories in individual seats. It is tipped to win just one seat in state parliament, according to analysis by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Griffith University political analyst Paul Williams said despite a lack of seats, Hanson’s party had likely polled higher than 20 per cent in some regional seats.

“All the anger, the disenchantment, the bitterness, the resentment to the major parties and elites, it’s still as strong as it was 12 months ago,” he told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.

The election has been held in one of Australia’s powerhouse mining states with debate over a A$16.5 billion ($12.6 billion) coal mine, rail and port project proposed by Indian energy giant Adani Enterprises dominating much of the campaign.

While both major parties support the Queensland resources project, Labor has vowed to veto a near billion-dollar concessional loan Adani has asked Australia to provide for the proposed rail line, should it win government. The conservative opposition Liberal National Party, which the ABC forecasts will win 41 seats, supports the government loan.

Hanson had been hoping her party would hold the balance-of-power in Queensland, and with it the ability to decide who the next premier would be.

As the results rolled in late on Saturday, she told reporters in Buderim, an urban centre near Queensland’s coast, that while disappointed with some of the emerging numbers, the fight would go on.

“I think this is a clear indication that One Nation is not going anywhere, we are going to be around for a while yet,” Hanson said.

($1 = 1.3137 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Alison Bevege and Jonathan Barrett in Sydney; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and Simon Cameron-Moore

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