Pauline Hanson
Pauline Hanson speaks during a news conference in Sydney, February 19, 2003. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

Pauline Hanson's chief of staff James Ashby has dismissed reports claiming he will contest a seat for One Nation at the Queensland state election. When asked if he was ruling out running in the Sunshine Coast seat, he said it was “pure speculation.”

Ian Nelson, former One Nation president, referred to Ashby as “the anti-Christ of politicians.” Nelson added that Ashby had a considerable influence within One Nation. He said Ashby planning to run is “an open secret.”

“Everybody in the party knows he is planning to run, it is an open secret,” Nelson said, as reported by The Australian. “And he would have a good chance because Pauline would be there beside him the whole campaign.”

Following his dispute with Ashby, Nelson recently stepped down as the president and treasurer of One Nation. According to AAP (via Herald Sun), One Nation made its return to the Queensland parliament after Steve Dickson made the move from the Liberal National Party.

Queensland Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls, meanwhile, said that Nicholls did not come forward to express any concerns about the party. “It's not as if you can't pick up the phone or have a chat with us,” Nicholls said.

Nicholls added Dickson had told him last year he would not defect to One Nation. “Steve Dickson reassured me and others of his colleagues only at the end of last year that he was a firm and committed member of the LNP,” Nicholls said. “He said: 'I'm not jumping ship, I don't have any intention to move'.” Following the move, LNP were left with 41 seats, while Labor had to contend with 41 seats.

Independent parliamentary speaker Peter Wellington says it is unlikely that an early election will take place later in the year. “I can't see that happening,” Wellington said. “I expect the current government will serve its full term. It's not due to go until this time next year and I anticipate that's what we'll see happen."