OPINION: Now the campaign is over, the real test will begin
THEY came, they saw, they hope to conquer.
If there was any doubt the Fraser Coast was key in the battle for regional Queensland, our party leaders cleared that up in the first moments of this state election campaign.
The Premier, Tim Nicholls and Pauline Hanson have likely seen more of Maryborough and Hervey Bay in the past three weeks than they had in as many years.
What we need now is a leader who isn't going to forget about us the moment the last vote is cast tonight.
It can only be hoped that in between photo ops, the people they shook hands with and promised the world to, resonated.
Too much is at stake for three weeks of pork barrelling to go to the wayside.
With some of the most unenviable unemployment stats in the country and the hope of Maryborough resting with promised manufacturing contracts, choosing a local to represent us is only half the battle.
A true leader does not simply listen to local members on their side of politics. Nor, do they freeze funding promised by a local member in opposition simply to prove a point.
Consecutive premiers have failed miserably at this skill. They have allowed politics to prevail over the people's needs, all the while pointing the blame at their opponents for allowing regional Queensland towns to descend into jobless, drug-addled shadows of former, prosperous agricultural and manufacturing hubs.
That failure is one of the biggest contributors to One Nation's rise.
If they narrowly survive the swing to Pauline and her team, Queensland's next premier, whoever they may be, must learn from the past. The future of our region depends on it.