Pauline Hanson: An Australian Donald Trump?

Pauline Hanson, leader and National Chairman of the party she founded in 1997, One Nation, has made a political comeback in the 2016 Federal election, which was held on Saturday, July 2nd. Having recently re-joined the party, Ms. Hanson was the party’s Queensland Senate candidate for the 2016 Federal Election. ABC reports that One Nation won possibly two Senate seats in Saturday’s election and Ms. Hanson says it could be as many as six. Ms. Hanson has been labelled by many as Australia’s Donald Trump.

Ms. Hanson has called for a Royal Commission into Islam, as well as advocating for zero-net immigration so that the number of people coming to Australia equals the number leaving. According to the ABC, Ms. Hanson’s agenda also includes a royal commission into the banking sector, preventing new mosques, introducing a referendum on gay marriage, addressing the number of workers on 457 visas, and advocating against the sale of Kidman station and foreign ownership.

Ms. Hanson has had a controversial political career. For example, she was cast off by the Liberal Party due to her racist comments towards Indigenous Australians in 1996, and then she ran as an independent but, she lost her federal seat in 1998. She was also jailed for electoral fraud in 2003 before the conviction was overturned. Her focus in this Federal election was Muslims, and the threat of terrorism.

“You have our values, culture and way of life, you don’t have a full burka,” she said. “You don’t keep putting up mosques. You cannot deny the fact that in these mosques they have been known to preach hate towards us. Do you want to see terrorism on the streets here? I’m not preaching hate, I’m trying to have a debate and a royal inquiry into it.”

Islamic Council of Queensland spokesman, Ali Kadri has stated that he finds Ms. Hanson’s policies to be hateful. “Pauline is a danger to our country, with her rhetoric and her divisive views … and it’s not just about Muslims. I mean, 20 years ago it was Asians who were going to swamp us and now it’s about Muslims and it will be about everybody else who doesn’t look like Pauline,” Mr Kadri said.

Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, prior to the election pleaded with Australians not to vote for Ms. Hanson as she and her policies were unwelcome in Australia. However, this has appeared to backfire as One Nation’s national secretary, Saraya Beric, stated that since the PM’s statement “she’s been getting 10,000 new likes a week on Facebook. The audience reach is about 4 million people a week around Australia.”

But, how has Pauline Hanson’s party and their policies gained such momentum?

The Guardian writer, Katharine Murphy, suggests a growing disillusionment towards the major political parties among Australians, who feel these parties no longer represent their views or needs.  Murphy points out that Australians see minority parties, such as One Nation as different, when in truth they are “…demagogues who hold themselves out as the saviours of the forgotten people are often just peddling a different kind of political mythology, a mythology that, if enacted, would hurt working people and harm their prospects.”

Ms. Hanson’s increasing popularity can also be attributed to growing unease of terror attacks and distrust towards refugees and immigrants, particularly those with Middle Eastern backgrounds due to increasing attacks on Western societies by individuals of this background, such as the case of the Paris shootings.

To combat her rising popularity and of other extremist groups, whose policies foster racism and hate, we need to look at why they are popular, as well as stopping the use of stereotypes. This will not only allow us to understand how to stop the rise of extremist groups, but it will help foster positive attitudes towards all cultures in Australian society.

For further reading:

To understand the party and policies of One Nation from their perspective: //

An alternate view of the party and policies of One Nation and Pauline Hanson: //

To read Katharine Murphy’s political piece on the rise of Pauline Hanson:



Annemarie Lewis