One man One Nation looms large over Qld Parliament
STEVE Dickson is just one man but his shadow hung over Queensland Parliament in its first sitting week of 2017.
Although Mr Dickson, the state's only One Nation MP, said little during the three sitting days, the far-right party's new-found popularity was a constant theme throughout the week.
One Nation support exploded in rural areas around Ipswich, the Wide Bay and central and north Queensland at the Federal Election last year.
One Nation could hold the balance of power if that support continues to the next state election - that could be held this year.
Mr Dickson was one of the first politicians to speak in parliament this week - first telling the house of his defection to One Nation and later to propose changes to medical marijuana laws.
Mr Dickson has said the major parties' medical marijuana policies were the reason he defected to One Nation.
But the major parties questioned how Mr Dickson and One Nation would impact the next election.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Deputy Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington to watch her back because Mr Dickson "wants your position", warning of a potential LNP-One Nation coalition.
Winning support in regional Queensland to try to see off the One Nation threat took on new importance in parliament.
The Government talked up the impact its policies were having on regional electorates and the Opposition launched an attack on the Government's regional infrastructure program.
But a social media gaffe on Tuesday set the LNP's regional credentials back. As Deputy Premier Jackie Trad spoke about infrastructure spending, the Opposition Media Team Twitter account posted a photo of a road in disrepair claiming regional Queensland was missing out.
The only problem? The tweeted photo was of a road in Slovakia.
On Wednesday, Ms Palaszczuk defended the cost to upgrade the Capricornia Correctional Centre as a way to "create regional jobs". Shadow treasurer Scott Emerson questioned why the addition of 164 new cells was costing about $200 million dubbing the new cells "prisoner penthouses".
The long running commercial dispute between sugar milling company Wilmar and sugar marketer Queensland Sugar Limited also spilled into parliament.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls announced he would move to amend sugar legislation to force warring sugar miller Wilmar and sugar marketer Queensland Sugar Limited to go to mediation if they did not agree to resolve their differences.
But the government said it would oppose the amendments stating it supported the two companies should come to a commercial solution. Ms Palaszczuk told parliament the two companies had been close to a solution before Mr Nicholls announced his plan.
According to an LNP insider the amendments was aimed at trapping One Nation and the KAP. If they backed the amendment it would solve the LNP's problem; but if they did not support it the LNP could use it to claim the minor parties did not want to fix the problem.
Mr Nicholls will introduce the amendment during the next parliamentary sitting week.