The One Nation Party of Australia came into being after independent member of parliament (former Liberal), Pauline Hanson, made her maiden speech and declared her strong views. She had been elected to the Queensland seat of Oxley in the 1996 election as an independent after being removed from The Liberal Party of Australia because of her opinions. The speech was directed at immigration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander special benefits, and welfare recipients.

Following Hanson's maiden speech, members of all three major federal parties (ALP, Liberal/National Coalition, and the Democrats) condemned her policies. Although the Prime Minister was among them, some political analysts have said that John Howard did not act quickly or strongly enough and could have destroyed the Hanson factor before it became too prominent.

Shortly after making her maiden speech, Pauline Hanson founded the One Nation Party. Just as she found strong support in certain regional and rural areas as well as poorer urban areas, she found equally determined opposition from many parts of the community. At this time, the One Nation Party was polling between 10 and 15% in national polls. Her platform was one of a typical extreme right wing party:

1. Reduce immigration levels, especially from Asia.

2. Provide all Australians with equal benefits. That is, give no special treatment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, or immigrants, or the unemployed etc.

3. Recognise the right for people to bear firearms and to use them to defend their property.

4. Increase tarrifs on imports.

The One Nation Party was headed by two other persons, David Etridge and David Oldfield. David Oldfield, a former lover of Hanson, assisted her in dealing with the media and helping to formulate party policy.

By the 1998 Federal Election, the One Nation Party had become a worrysome force for the major parties. The Queensland election of that year saw the party gain 23% of the primary vote and 17 seats in the 89 seat parliament.

The October Federal Election, however, disappointed Hanson supporters. Although the party received approximately 9% of the vote, only one seat was won: a Queensland Senate seat. Even Pauline Hanson in her new seat of Blair was not able to win, despite receiving 36% of the primary vote. The One Nation Party now had no seats in the federal House of Representatives, and had won only one seat in the Senate. For many political observers, this was the death of the One Nation phenomenon.

Heather Hill was elected to the Senate seat, but she was not allowed to take office as she held a dual British citizenship that she did not declare, which made her ineligable. Len Harris, second on the ticket, was eventually instated as a Senator for One Nation.

The New South Wales state election in 1999, was also unsuccessful for the party. David Oldfield was the only winner: a State Legislative Council (upper house) seat. The party only managed to poll 6.3% of the vote.

Over the following months, the One Nation Party fell into disarray. One Nation Queensland Parliamentary members began to resign as members of the party fearing lack of control and claiming Hanson ran the party like a 'dictatorship'. Soon the party had no Queensland politicians and was officially deregistered as a party.

In 2000, the situation got worse for Hanson. She had a major disagreement with David Oldfield and David Etridge, who both left the party, leaving her with no parliamentary representation.

For many Australians this was the end of the One Nation era. This was not to be the case. In January 2001, Hanson suddenly re-emerged back into the public eye. The Western Australian state election was to be in February and Hanson intended to rally support once more and have One Nation politicians contest as many seats as possilbe in both this election and the Queensland one to follow.

Once again, the media became fixed on the issue of One Nation. Despite the polls only showing 4% support for the party, they managed to poll 9.6% in Western Australia. However, the party did not win any seats.

In the Queensland election in February, 2001, the party again was disappointed, managing to capture 8.9% of the vote, but only 2 seats. The party had won 17 seats in 1998. Currently, the party is polling less than 5% nationally.

The One Nation Party will continue to be a strongly contested issue in Australia. No doubt, Pauline Hanson will be nominated for either a Federal Senate seat, or House seat in the 2001 Federal Election later in the year.

***As a member of the ALP, I am in no way a supporter or affiliate of The One Nation Party. This is merely an attempt at an objective write-up on this controversial force in Australian politics.

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