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One Nation that won’t just fade away

Hanson, the head of the anti-Asian immigration party, lost her seat in parliament in Saturday's election, but the far-right One Nation po...

Hanson, the head of the anti-Asian immigration party, lost her seat in parliament in Saturday’s election, but the far-right One Nation polled one million votes, or 8.4 percent of the total.

It is entitled under election funding laws to reclaim from the public purse the money it spent on the campaign to a maximum of 2.5 million dollars.

As the mainstream parties hope it will now fade into political oblivion One Nation is desperately searching for ways to help maintain a public profile.

One is the money, which Hanson’s chief adviser and failed Senate candidate David Oldfield said on Monday would be used to repay candidates, to pay off bills from the Queensland state election and to help fund future elections.

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Another is that its single success in the election was a Senate seat which has probably been won by its Queensland candidate Heather Hill or Bill O’Chee, Australia’s only ethnic Chinese MP.

Unlike Hanson, a former fish-and-chip shop owner turned party leader, Hill is reasonably articulate andseemingly better equipped than most One Nation candidates to leverage political influence from the Senate.

Oldfield said suggestions that Hill would step aside to allow Hanson to take up the Senate seat had merit, but it would not happen.

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“I don’t think Pauline would ask her and I’m sure that Heather wouldn’t be enthusiastic about it anyway,” Oldfield said.

Opinions appear divided about whether One Nation can now be regarded as a spent force, although a front page commentary in The Australian

by one of the country’s leading political analysts said “Hansonism as a movement remains alive and must be confronted.”

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Another leading analyst, political science professor Elaine Thompson of Sydney’s New South Wales University, said One Nation had attracted support from an alienated segment of the community which will not disappear.

Thompson believes that though One Nation has a hard-core of right-wing extremists and racists, its supporters are mostly people who feel betrayed by globalisation andeconomic restructuring which has left many jobless.

“I think they are essentially rural people, mostly conservative voters, who feel alienated from the major parties and betrayed by the winding back of rural services,” she said.

The outcome of the election in which the major parties conspired to deny One Nation secondary votes is likely to have alienated them further and increased their sense of cynicism, Thompson said.

“These people are not going to go away,” she said.

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Heather Hill said on Monday that One Nation should be proud of its performance in winning more than eight percent of the vote in Saturday’s election and would return even stronger when the nation next went to the polls.

“After a very short period of time — it’s only 18 months — more than a million people voted for One Nation and it’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to secure seats in the lower house,” she said.

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One Nation director David Ettridge said Hanson’s projections last week that the party would win 12 to 15 lowerhouse seats and six Senate seats showed the tremendous confidence the party had been feeling.

“We were caught up in the excitement of the moment of the election and we were getting such positive feedback from our own people, I suppose we tended to believe our own self-promotion,” Ettridge said.

First published on: 06-10-1998 at 12:00:00 am
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