He once broke a taxi-driver’s arm. He’s been dumped from more talk shows than most other commentators. He lost the 2004 Federal Election with a handshake that went terribly wrong.

He is, of course, Mark Latham.

Now, with the backing of Pauline Hanson, Mark Latham is leading One Nation’s charge into the March 2019 NSW election.

Latham a beacon for some

Mark Latham and One Nation position themselves as being a voice of hope for the disaffected. With independents recently sweeping aside incumbents in Wagga and Wentworth, it’s fair to say there’s a large percentage of angry voters looking for an alternative to the major parties.

Latham and One Nation also resonate with the 2GB talk-back set, and the Party’s simple mantra of protectionism and slashing immigration will attract like-minded voters from both the Coalition and Labor.

NSW Upper House

Not only does Latham have the profile to match his loud opinions, One Nation is more well-known and more widely-supported than similar independent parties like the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF).

In NSW, One Nation consistently outpolls both the SFF and the CDP, however until now, have not put any significant effort into running candidates. With Latham himself running as One Nation’s candidate for the Legislative Council, there’s a distinct possibility that he could pinch one of the positions held by either the SFF or CDP.

This would have a significant impact on the balance of power, currently shared by the CDP and the SFF.

Should Latham win an Upper House seat it throws another minority agenda into the mix; it’s another issue-based party the next government will have to appease, and it also represents another key player for advocates to factor into future campaigns.

Split the vote in key seats

A slew of One Nation candidates across the NSW election landscape would snatch votes away from conservative minor parties and hurt both the majors.

The SFF hold the NSW seat of Orange and are likely to retain it with a strong local incumbent. However, the SFF will likely poll well in other regional seats such as Upper Hunter, Bathurst, Monaro and Bega. Should One Nation field candidates in these critical regional seats, the SFF vote would drop sharply.

One Nation will also hurt the Coalition vote in regional NSW, especially if they run a ‘vote 1 only’ campaign, encouraging voters not to assign preferences and eating into the Coalition’s primary vote in knife-edge seats.

Interestingly, this sort of campaign could also impact Labor in some Western Sydney seats, with recent polling suggesting the ALP is losing ground in Granville and Strathfield.

Next steps

It’s critical to understand that One Nation has a very real shot of taking an Upper House seat at the March 2019 NSW election, affecting the balance of power in the new parliament.

Key to dealing with this scenario - a third ‘conservative’ minor party post-election - is preparation. Research what the modern Mark Latham stands for. Research One Nation’s position on key issues that directly affect your organisation/client. Understand the issues One Nation is likely to use as a wedge against both Labor and the Coalition.

Work a One Nation presence into your scenario planning for your post-election campaign work, because it does appear that a phoenix is about to rise – Mark Latham’s back!