Party profile: One Nation

One Nation is back.



Not that it’s ever really gone away since Pauline Hanson established One Nation in 1997, but she’s rejoined the party and it is again rising to prominence.


One Nation sprang to life in 1997 on the back of the astounding political fortunes of founder Pauline Hanson the year before.


Despite being disendorsed as the Liberal Party candidate for Oxley during the 1996 election campaign, Ms Hanson secured a record-breaking 19.31 per cent against the ALP in the formerly safe Labor seat.


Her maiden speech homed in on what Ms Hanson considered to be Indigenous privilege and overly high levels of immigration.


The speech resonated with some voters who felt themselves to be marginalised in Australian society.


“But I draw the line when told I must pay and continue paying for something that happened over 200 years ago. Like most Australians, I worked for my land; no-one gave it to me. I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. Of course I will be called racist but if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.”


One Nation’s fortunes rapidly declined after Pauline Hanson lost her seat in the 1998 elections although it has continued to field candidates in most federal and state elections.


Its policies reflected the views outlined by Ms Hanson in parliament in 1996, and continues to do so, says the party’s national leader, Jim Savage.


Mr Savage says One Nation is an unashamedly nationalistic party that would push for the re-introduction of tariffs to protect Australian agriculture and manufacturing.


He says while the party is under no illusions that it will be a major force in the next government, it is prepared for potentially holding the balance of power.


“If anyone in One Nation, whether it’s in the House of Reps or the Senate, ever held the balance of power we would always put our support behind the Coalition, I’ll make that quite clear. We are anti-Labor. We have some issues with the Coalition on some of the things that they do, but we are definitely a conservative party and we would never be under doubt as to which side of politics we would support.”


But the things that gained Pauline Hanson such notoriety – Indigenous land rights and Asian migrants – have given way to concern about Muslim migrants and asylum seekers.


Ms Hanson told SBS Radio’s Tamil program migrants don’t see One Nation as being opposed to all migrants.


“As one Sri Lankan pulled me up only a few weeks ago and he said ‘I love you’. He said ‘I came here’ and he said ‘I have three sons’ and he said ‘I love you because you love your country. That’s why I came here, for a better way of life’.”


One Nation’s policy on multiculturalism states the party will “abolish the Racial Discrimination Act and promote assimilation, nationalism, loyalty and pride in being an Australian.”


Ms Hanson says the tradition of immigration in Australia was in the past a success because migrants assimilated far better than they do today.


“Immigration has always been a very big part of Australia’s history. A lot of migrants migrated here. So did my grandparents for that better way of life. So under One Nation, we believe in a zero net immigration policy — those that leave our shores, replace them. But to ensure that our unemployment queues are not added to, waiting lists on our hospitals, nursing homes, a strain on our infrastructure, we must look after the people that are here before we invite more into our country.”


One Nation says its policy to abolish multiculturalism is not intended to stereotype any group and has nothing to do with race.


But racism was just one of the charges made against Stephanie Banister, the now former One Nation lower house candidate who, in a memorable interview on Channel 7, said this:


“I don’t oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia… Less than two per cent of Australians follow Haram. Jews aren’t under haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ. They don’t have a tax on [kosher foods], they’ve just got a certain way of making it where haram has a tax on the food.”


One Nation’s national leader, Jim Savage, says the comments were a result of the candidate being unprepared to defend her concerns about the cost to consumers of Halal certification.


“You know, that poor girl, she went on national television on Saturday (after the original interview aired) and gave a heartfelt apology for the mistakes she made and Channel 7 wouldn’t show that. They came and interviewed her but when she was truly sorry and she was very, very sad. You know I think it was very much a case of ‘let’s try to bring up another Pauline Hanson of 1998 scenario’ and I think it was very unfair and I feel so sorry for Stephanie. I have to take some of the blame for that. I didn’t protect her well enough and I’ll stand condemned for that.”


The concerns One Nation candidates openly have about Islam and Muslims do not make it onto the party’s official platform.


What does is the matter that is preoccupying the major parties in this election campaign — asylum seekers.


“Hello, I’m Mike Holt and I’m running in the seat of Fairfax for One Nation. Like me, I’m sure you are worried about the boat people problem. Kevin Rudd’s ‘solution’ is no solution at all. I believe that every single boat person who came here since Rudd dismantled Howard’s solution, I believe that they’re all illegal invaders, and therefore they do not deserve to be in Australia. They came here to circumvent our immigration laws and, as such, they are criminals and we don’t want criminals in our society. So I believe that we should round up every single one that’s come in here since Rudd was elected and send them all back home.”


One Nation candidate Mike Holt, in a campaign video on the One Nation website.


Pauline Hanson’s decision to stand for the Senate in New South Wales, and the ‘Islam is a country’ gaffe that made headlines around the world has again put One Nation in the public eye.


But this election will see many minor parties competing for the conservative vote — Rise Up Australia, Australian Christians, parties established by Bob Katter and mining magnate Clive Palmer among them.


One Nation national leader Jim Savage, himself a Senate candidate in Queensland, says it’s a case of the more the merrier.


“I don’t consider this a competition. I mean, the only reason One Nation exists is because we have grave fears about certain things that are going on in our country. We have grave concerns over the quality of our leadership. I would only be too pleased if other minor parties can join us. We have very good relationships with other similar-minded minor parties, and we have very good preference deals done with most of them. I don’t consider them as competitors, I consider them as team mates, and I welcome them.”




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