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Hopes still held for One Nation victories

One Nation chiefs remain optimistic of winning three Upper House seats despite support crashing for Pauline Hanson’s party after a shocking last week of the campaign.

The party’s WA leader Colin Tincknell is certain to gain an Upper House seat, as Liberal and One Nation figures turn on each other for hurting their respective campaigns.

The ABC’s election analyst Antony Green has Mr Tincknell on track to claim the fifth seat in South West Region. Robin Scott is ahead in the race for the final seat in Mining and Pastoral.

Rod Caddies is in the hunt for the final seat for the Agriculture Region but the ABC’s computer predicts incumbent Shooters MP Rick Mazza to leapfrog him on preferences.

Mr Tincknell, a consultant and former ad salesman, did not return The West Australian’s calls yesterday but had lunch with Senator Hanson, who spent much of the day phoning candidates for their feedback.

Opinion polls in February put One Nation’s support as high as 13 per cent but by election day that slumped to 4.7 per cent after Senator Hanson’s comments on vaccination and double-dealing over the GST dogged the last week of the campaign.

Party infighting, including a raft of candidates repudiating the preference deal with the Liberals, also tarnished the One Nation brand.

Liberals were furious that the sideshow reflected poorly on the Government, and yesterday blamed Mr Tincknell for saddling One Nation with a raft of dud and disloyal candidates after many of them had earlier been rejected by former officials Ron McLean and Marye Louise Daniels.

Senator Hanson’s top aide James Ashby told The West Australian yesterday the biggest factor to the party’s loss of support was Labor’s claim that a vote for One Nation was a vote for Colin Barnett.

“Colin Barnett was cancer in this election campaign,” he said.

Mr Ashby said the party believed it would win the three regional seats and could snatch unlikely victories in the South and East metropolitan regions.

Senator Hanson said the preference deal backfired on her party because of Mr Barnett’s deep unpopularity, adding the Liberals should have dumped him as leader.

“It’s like when you’ve got milk in your fridge and it’s starting to go sour, you throw it out, and that’s what they should have done with Colin Barnett,” she said on election night.

Deidre Willmott, who was chief of staff to premier Richard Court when the Liberals preferenced One Nation last in the 2001 election, said that decision had been vindicated.

“History now shows that was not only the right decision but strategically correct,” she said.

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