Hanson, Pauline Lee


Hanson, Pauline Lee
▪ 1998

      In April 1997 a new political party, One Nation, was formed in Australia by controversial independent MP Pauline Hanson, who in her short political career had become well known throughout the country for her extremist racist and anti-immigrant views. Despite harsh attacks on Hanson and her political opinions, she had developed a large following among some groups of Australians, and membership in and support for One Nation grew rapidly.

      Hanson, born May 27, 1954, in Brisbane, Queen., was the mother of four, when her second marriage ended in the late 1980s. She settled in Ipswich, Queen., and opened a fish-and-chips shop, which she sold in early 1997. She was elected to the Ipswich City Council in 1994 but was defeated the following year. A member of the Liberal Party, she was forced out of the party in 1996 for her extremist views and ran successfully for Parliament as an independent in the March 1996 general election.

      Hanson shocked Australia in September 1996 with her maiden speech to Parliament, in which she blamed Aborigines, Asian immigrants, and public policy regarding them for many of the country's problems, particularly its high unemployment rate (8.7% overall, with some areas as high as 30%). She stated that Australia was in danger of being overrun by Asians—who took jobs needed by Australian citizens and made no effort to assimilate into Australian society—and called for a short-term halt to Asian immigration. She also demanded that foreign aid be abolished and the money used to create jobs at home. On the subject of Aborigines, she said, "I am fed up with being told, 'This is our land.' Well, where the hell do I go? I was born here, and so were my parents and children. I will work beside anyone and they will be my equal but I draw the line when told I must pay and continue paying for something that happened over 200 years ago."

      In August the Australian Electoral Commission redrew federal electoral boundaries in Queensland in order to create another seat for the growing population. Hanson's electorate, Oxley, was redistributed, which made it more difficult for her to be reelected—the newly drawn district contained a significant population of Asian immigrants. By September membership in One Nation and support for Hanson appeared to be declining.

WENDY TANNER

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Universalium. 2010.

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