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20 November 2008

Pauline Hanson

TANIA NUGENT: Pauline Hanson was one of Australia's most controversial politicians.

She was born in Brisbane and was well known as the owner of a fish and chip shop.

She was first elected to the Australian Parliament in 1996 in a safe Liberal seat of Oxley, although the Liberal Party had withdrawn its support of her after comments she made about Aboriginal Australians being given too much government assistance.

Her first speech in Parliament divided the nation, especially her attitude towards immigration from Asia.

PAULINE HANSON: I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished.


PAULINE HANSON: I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettoes and do not assimilate.

KIM BEAZLEY: Would the Prime Minister now agree that the Member for Oxley's views on racial issues are hurtful to a great many Australians, are damaging our interests in the region and do not reflect the kind of society that Australia is or wants to be?

JOHN HOWARD: I will always denounce racial intolerance. I will always defend the non-discriminatory character of Australia's immigration policy. I believe that the contribution that Australians of Asian descent have made to this country has been immense.

PAULINE HANSON: And they call me a racist and a bigot and put across that I'm this uncaring woman. I'm standing up for people who have fought for this country that we can hand on to a better country. I'm not trying to divide this nation. I'm trying to unite us and say, 'We're all Australians.'

TANIA NUGENT: She formed the One Nation Party in 1997 and for the next two years her views sparked controversy wherever she went.

PAULINE HANSON: Between 1984 and 1995, of all the migrants coming to Australia, forty percent were from the Asian area. If you have too many of one race come into Australia it can upset the makeup and the balance of your own culture.

TANIA NUGENT: In spite of winning nine percent of the national vote in the 1998 Federal election One Nation only gained one seat in Parliament and Hanson lost her own seat of Oxley, but her party won eleven seats in the Queensland state government election.

Pauline Hanson continued to try to win support and seats in Parliament but her party was split by disagreements.

PAULINE HANSON: They're trying to destroy us and we've had to get rid of a few people and say, 'Listen, you're not here for the right reasons.'

WOMAN: It was amazing. We were accused of being traitors by David Ettridge, compulsive liars.

MAN: Those half a million people that voted need to know what they're voting for next time round and they need to know that the people they voted for aren't all they seem.

INTERVIEWER: How extreme were these people?

MAN 2: Well, I'll put it this way - my flag's not white and my emblem is not a burning cross. Theirs is.

TANIA NUGENT: In 2003 she was convicted of electoral fraud.

After eleven weeks in prison her conviction was overturned and she was released. Following her release she announced her retirement from politics but later changed her mind and stood unsuccessfully as an independent for the Queensland Senate in 2004.

INTERVIEWER: Are we seeing the demise of One Nation here tonight?

TANIA NUGENT: Today the party she formed, One Nation, has lost most of its support. To some Australians Pauline Hanson was an heroic figure, standing up for ordinary Australians against imposed values. To most she represented an extreme and many felt her views were racist and divisive.

PAULINE HANSON: You know either you love me or you absolutely hate me so it's one extreme to the other. You'll be walking down the street and you don't know whether someone wants to hug and kiss you or whether they'll give you a smack in the mouth.

MAN 3: She's an icon for her followers. She's an object of ridicule for everybody else.

TANIA NUGENT: If nothing else, Pauline Hanson was responsible for generating a lot of debate and emotion about difficult and sometimes uncomfortable issues.