In March 1996, Pauline Hanson was to become the first Independent female to win a seat in the House of Representatives.
Hanson was initially endorsed as a Liberal candidate for the Queensland federal seat of Oxley but was disendorsed 16 days out from the election due to her politically incorrect comments relating to Aboriginals. Hanson stood as an Independent and won the unwinnable seat with a 19.31% swing, the biggest in the nation, winning the seat with 54.66% of the vote after preferences.
After delivering her famous Maiden Speech on September 10, 1996, her popularity and support grew at an enormous rate. Due to the overwhelming support throughout the country, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation was formed and registered as a political party in April 1997. Pauline Hanson founded the party with associates David Ettridge and David Oldfield who later became her senior staffer and advisor.
One Nation argued that the other parties were out of touch with mainstream Australia. One Nation ran on a broadly populist and protectionist platform. It promised to drastically reduce immigration and to abolish “divisive and discriminatory policies … attached to Aboriginal and multicultural affairs.” Condemning multiculturalism as a “threat to the very basis of the Australian culture, identity and shared values”, One Nation rallied against government immigration and multicultural policies which, it argued, were leading to “the Asianisation of Australia.” The party also denounced economic rationalism and globalisation, reflecting working-class dissatisfaction with the neo-liberal economic policies embraced by the major parties. Adopting strong protectionist policies, One Nation advocated the restoration of import tariffs, a revival of Australia’s manufacturing industry, and an increase in support for small business and the rural sector.
The party’s greatest appeal was in country areas of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, the traditional heartlands of the junior partner in the non-Labor Coalition, the National Party. Indeed, for much of 1997 and 1998, it appeared that One Nation would pass the Nationals, and it did.
One Nation achieved its peak of support in the 1998 Queensland state election, at which the party won 22.7% of the vote, behind only Labor. In terms of first-preference votes, One Nation received more than either the Liberals or Nationals. One Nation gained a higher percentage of the vote than any other third party (non-Labor or Coalition) at the state or territory level since Federation. This was also the only election where a third party has gained more votes than both the Liberal 16.09% and National 15.17% parties (considered separately). Pauline Hanson’s won 11 of the 89 seats.
In 1999 the Queensland Electoral Commission deregistered One Nation Qld. Subsequently, the One Nation contingent in the Queensland Parliament split, with dissident members forming the rival City-Country Alliance in late 1999. Two of the members declared to be Independents and went on to win their seats in the following state election. Pauline Hanson within a matter of months had the party re-registered.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation was to win 9% of the national vote in the 1998 federal election, Hanson contested the new seat of Blair because a redistribution effectively splitting Oxley in half. Having seen how preferences gave One Nation 11 seats in the Queensland election, John Howard then Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Government changed the federal voting system to full preferential voting just before the October election. All the major political parties colluded together and placed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation last on their How to Vote cards. Hanson polled 36% of the primary vote but lost the seat to Liberal candidate Cameron Thompson who only polled 19% of primary votes, winning it with Labors preferences.
Heather Hill, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Queensland Senate candidate polled 14.83% of the vote in 1998 winning the seat for the party in its own right, but her eligibility to sit as a senator was successfully challenged under the Australian Constitution Section 44, on the basis that she had failed to renounce her childhood British citizenship, despite being a naturalised Australian citizen. The seat went to the party’s Len Harris following a recount.
At the 1999 New South Wales election, David Oldfield was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council and narrowly missing out winning a second seat.
In the 2001 federal election, the party’s vote fell from 9% to 5.5%. Hanson failed in her bid to win a Senate seat from Queensland, despite polling a strong 10% of the primary vote, outpolling the Nationals by approx. 11,000 and Australian Democrats 65,000 on primary votes. They both won their seats with preferences.
In the 2001 Queensland state election, One Nation won three seats and 8.69% of the primary vote. The City-Country Alliance lost all of its seats and faded into irrelevance soon afterwards. In the same year, at the state election in Western Australia, One Nation won three seats in the state’s Legislative Council.
At the 2004 Queensland election, One Nation polled less than 5% of the vote and its sole elected representative, Rosa Lee Long, stood as an independent. One Nation attempted to defend its Queensland Senate seat at the 2004 federal election but lost it (effectively to the National Party). Len Harris’s Senate term expired on 30 June 2005.
Internal Disputes & Decline
In October 2000, Hanson expelled Oldfield from the party. Oldfield had been accused of abusing his authority, usurping power, and setting up alternative political parties under his control. His expulsion created even more instability. Oldfield engineered a split within the party, creating One Nation NSW, in 2001. Due to David Oldfield’s behind the scenes determination to undermine Pauline Hanson and gain control as leader of the party, Pauline finally resigned at a National Executive meeting in January 2002 that was manipulated and controlled by Oldfield’s minions and elected Pauline Hanson’s Western Australian members of Parliament John Fischer and Frank Hough. Oldfield underestimated his popularity with the membership. They never wanted him to lead the party.
One Nation became subject to a political campaign by Tony Abbott then a Minister of the Howard Government and later to become Prime Minister of Australia in 2010, who established a trust fund called “Australians for Honest Politics Trust” to help bankroll civil court cases against the Party (see Tony Abbott Action against the One Nation party). He was also accused of offering funds to One Nation dissident and former member, Terry Sharples in 1998 after the successful Queensland state election, and just prior to the 1998 federal election, to support his court battle against the party. Abbott conceded that the political threat One Nation posed to the Howard Government was “a very big factor” in his decision to pursue the legal attack, but he also claimed to be acting “in Australia’s national interest”.
Since the 1998 peak, internal divisions have plagued One Nation. Fraud charges brought about by Terry Sharples saw Hanson the Party Agent, forced to repay approximately A$502,000 of public funding won at the 1998 Queensland election, back to the ECQ, amid claims that the party was fraudulently registered. Hanson never personally received one cent of the funding, which initially went to repay candidates and election costs.
The charges alleged that the party didn’t have 500 members of the political party when registered in 1998 but were alleged to be 500 members of the Pauline Hanson’s Support Movement. After a lengthy criminal trial in 2003, Pauline Hanson and David Ettridge were found guilty and imprisoned for 3 years. On the 3rd appeal, their sentences were quashed. Hanson and Ettridge were released after serving 11 weeks in maximum security at the Wacol Women’s and Men’s Correctional Centre’s. Oldfield was never charged but was noted by his staff that he assisted police with their investigation. There was no love lost between Oldfield and Hanson.
The Electoral Commission of Queensland refused to reimbursed Hanson for the monies stating she had no claim under the Act. Pauline Hanson believes she has every right to be reimbursed the $502,000 she had to personally pay back to the Electoral Commission in light of the charges being quashed but has not pursued the matter due to legal costs. Also, Pauline Hanson has never received any compensation for her wrongful imprisonment and declares that she should never have been charged at all. It was a political witch-hunt to destroy Hanson and One Nation.
During its brief period of popularity, One Nation had a major impact on Australian politics. The primary effect at state and federal levels was to split the conservative vote and threaten the National Party’s support base. The appeal of its policies to the National Party’s constituency put great pressure on that party. The rapid rise of the party revealed a substantial minority of discontented voters dissatisfied with the major parties.
In the prologue to her autobiography Untamed and Unashamed, Hanson cites the Howard government’s adoption of her policies as an attempt to win back One Nation voters to the Liberal and National parties, stating “the very same policies I advocated back then … are being advocated today by the federal government”.
Pauline Hanson broke the chains of political correctness that was stifling political debate.
Other political parties have taken up a lot of her policies. In 2004 Andrew Bolt wrote an article ‘Hanson Ahead of Her Time’.
Hanson’s Return as Leader
Pauline Hanson was voted back in by the membership, as leader of the Party on November 29, 2014, after nearly 13 years.
She founded the party on a strong nationalist and conservative platform and still carries those views today. She calls for equality for all Australians regardless of race, colour or creed. She is a strong advocate against CSG mining, multiculturalism, foreign ownership of land, housing, public utilities and assets and free trade agreements that will see foreigners taking Australian jobs. She strongly supports protecting the environment, farming sector, and our national identity as Australians under the one law and flag. She encourages more youth apprenticeship schemes and cares for our aged, sick and vulnerable.
Pauline is also a strong advocate against the totalitarian political ideology of Islam and the impact it is having on Australia. Therefore Pauline is calling for a Royal Commission to determine if Islam is truly a religion or a political ideology undermining our democracy, culture, way of life and security.
In January 2015 Queensland Premier Campbell Newman called a snap election. With 26 days to campaign, One Nation managed to stand 11 candidates. Hanson stood for the seat of Lockyer narrowly defeating sitting Liberal National party member Ian Rickuss by 114 votes. The seat now has a margin of .02% making it the most marginal in the state. Hanson believes it was a corrupt counting system that cost her the seat. Preferences were counted on a notional count and not in accordance with legislation. The Queensland Electoral Commission refused a recount, regardless of the difference of only 114 votes between winning and loosing. Legal costs were going to cost in excess of $40,000 to take it to the Court of Disputed Returns. Hanson had to walk away once again from a corrupt voting and counting system.
In July 2015, Hanson announced that the party was once again renamed ‘Pauline Hanson’s One Nation’.
Hanson announced that she would be standing for the Queensland Senate and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will be standing Senate and Lower House candidates across the nation, in the 2016 federal election.
Since her return as National President, the party has experienced renewed interest, support, membership, a national head office and Pauline has her own small airplane donated, to help her move around the country.
Her determination to fight for the Australian people is evident considering all that has happened to her and the party she founded, over the past 20 years. Hence her Party’s motto is ‘never give up, we won’t’.
Pauline Hanson was returned to Parliament as a Senator in the 2016 Federal election and she took 3 other Senators with her – Malcolm Roberts (QLD), Rodney Culleton (WA) & Brian Burston (NSW).