Huxham juggles blurry line between father and campaigner
A TIRING Damian Huxham stands on the side of Pialba's Old Maryborough Rd, how-to-vote cards in hand. as the clock ticks towards the end of election day.
Saturday, November 25, marks the end of a dramatic 28-day campaign for the One Nation candidate.
While his target was the seat of Hervey Bay, held by the LNP's Ted Sorensen, Mr Huxham made headlines for his party's on-going battle with Labor candidate Adrian Tantari.
Accusations flew both ways, and even caught the attention of party leader and Senator Pauline Hanson, who confronted Mr Tantari in the final week of the campaign.
On this day, Mr Huxham is joined by a legion of loyal volunteers at Hervey Bay's polling booths.
He's been up since the early hours after barely batting an eyelid overnight. It's the same for most candidates, who have dedicated most of their time - days and nights - to the campaign.
It is tough on the candidates, but for Mr Huxham, there's at least three more people on whom the long hours, nasty words, and headlines take a toll.
"I want to see my kids," Mr Huxham said candidly. "It's been a rough couple of weeks for them.
"Being that I work away, it's very hard, I came home and went straight into campaign mode, so that's the priority, to spend time with the kids."
Leon, 12, and Kyra, his nine-year-old princess, and wife Maria, have tirelessly supported Mr Huxham through each campaign.
Maria is by Mr Huxham's side at Hervey Bay State High School handing out how-to-vote cards and meeting potential supporters. Their children spent Saturday morning at sport, then the rest of the day with a babysitter.
"It's really hard on the family," he said.
"Most minor parties and independents are self-funded candidates so we have to believe in what we're doing first, then that's echoed in the volunteers. They believe in us and it snowballs from there.
"It's really had on the family but we believe in what we're doing."
It is that belief that supporters hope will elevate Mr Huxham from fly-in fly-out miner to Hervey Bay's next representative at Parliament House.
But he admitted his dedication to those very same supporters occasionally made things difficult at home.
Whether it's sneaking a peek at his iPad to respond to supporter's messages, another sleepless night, or shielding his family from deeply personal criticism, the lines between work and home blurred significantly while the race heats up.
"When I fly-in, fly-out, she's the mum, the dad, the cook, the cleaner, the shopper, and she works full-time," Mr Huxham said of wife Maria.
"When you get incidents like some of the smear stuff we saw, it really affects her.
"It's hard as I'm home, but she's still the mum, the dad, the cook, the cleaner - it's been a massive drain on her.
"We have a rule: no electronics allowed at the table. But during the campaign it's hard - I do my own media releases, my own research for local policies. I'll sit it there and tap it every now and again so the screen doesn't go blank and type what I can when my wife and kids aren't looking."
As booths close and the all-important count begins, Mr Huxham hopes to spend much-needed time with his biggest supporters - his family.
He is unsure of what comes next.
Mr Huxham could become Hervey Bay's newest state representative, and potentially hold the balance of power dependent on other results, or it will mean a swift return to the mines to put food on the table.