Grattan on Friday: All is forgiven in the Liberal embrace of Palmer


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

This election is acquiring quite a few back-to-the-future touches.

There’s John Howard, in robust campaign mode. One of those he’s spruiking for is the embattled Tony Abbott, with a letter to Warringah voters, a video and a planned street walk.

Then there’s a prospect that independent Rob Oakeshott might be set for resurrection. Oakeshott, remembered for that 17-minute speech when he (finally) announced he’d support the Gillard government, could strip the Nationals of the northern NSW seat of Cowper.

And bizarrely, there’s Clive Palmer, becoming a player to be reckoned with.

Only last June Morrison said of Palmer’s renewed political push that he thought Australians would say “the circus doesn’t need another sideshow.”

Well, the sideshow’s here and the Liberals are grabbing a prize from its spinning wheel, with an in-principle preference deal with Palmer’s United Australia Party (still to be formally announced by the UAP on Monday).

With Morrison, preferences are a matter of cost-versus-benefit.

That assessment led him to declare recently the Liberals would place One Nation behind Labor. Given the expose of One Nation’s cavorting with the US gun lobby, and how vulnerable the Liberals are in Victoria, Morrison needed to make a gesture.




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Anyway, the One Nation preference issue is most relevant to the Nationals, and the edict didn’t apply to them.

Indeed on Thursday, Nationals’ senator Steve Martin announced the Tasmanian Nationals Senate how-to-vote card will have One Nation third, behind the Liberals (and ahead of Labor) after an agreement between the two parties. “One Nation is less objectionable than the Labor/Greens cohort,” Martin said.

A cost-benefit analysis leads Morrison to turn a blind eye to the times Palmer stymied the Coalition government when he had the power to do so, let alone his business practices, including leaving his nickel refinery workers in the lurch. As is his style, Morrison simply throws a blanket over such inconvenient history.




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View from The Hill: Can $55 million get Clive Palmer back into parliamentary game?


Preference deals are all very well but if Palmer’s comeback takes more votes off the Coalition than from Labor it’s damaging for the government. They won’t all be returned via preferences. Of course Pauline Hanson also has a lot to worry about from any Palmer surge.

The Australia Institute, releasing its latest round of Senate polling in a report out on Friday, notes a “striking rise in support” for the UAP over its last four polls – from 0.8% in August last year to 3.1% earlier this month.

The current figures wouldn’t get the UAP a Senate seat, the report says. “But if the party’s vote continues to grow sharply, it will be an outside chance in Queensland and (surprisingly) Victoria.”

Victoria sounds far-fetched but in the Senate polling the UAP in that state was on 4.7%. Last week, Newspoll surveys in four marginal seats across the country had the UAP polling an average 8%, and 14% in the Queensland seat of Herbert.




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With two weeks gone in the campaign, there’s a good deal of confusion about the state of play. The holidays have broken the flow, and while the parties have their data, we’re lacking public evidence about whether Labor’s 52-48% Newspoll lead of around a fortnight ago has been maintained.

But a couple of points seem clear. First, Morrison so far has more than held his own on the campaign trail; Bill Shorten has under-performed. Second, the Liberals’ relentlessly negative campaign looks dangerous for Labor. This is especially so as Shorten is facing the full weight of News Corp’s hostility.

Labor entered the campaign in a good position. Its challenge is to limit the extent to which its initial advantage is eroded by its opponents’ scare tactics.

Although Morrison is battling for the survival of the government, it can be argued Shorten has more at stake personally.

That sounds counter-intuitive, but think of it this way.

Morrison has been leader well short of a year. The government has been generally written off. If the Coalition’s loss was small, many Liberals would see Morrison as having done a good job.

It would be another matter with a big defeat, but the blame for a relatively narrow one would likely (and rightly) be rammed home less to him, and more to the disgraceful shambles of the whole Coalition outfit.

But a Shorten loss, against the odds and after years of polling in Labor’s favour, would see the blame heaped on him (and shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, a driver of much of Labor’s ambitious policy).

Shorten would be criticised not just for his campaign – more fundamentally, he’d be condemned for adopting the big target strategy, so open to scare attacks.

And he’d be blamed for being who he is, a leader with an X factor when X stands for some hard-to-identify (and seemingly impossible to rectify) political gene that makes voters wary of him.

For two terms, Shorten’s government enemies and critics on his own side have underestimated him.

The Liberals thought he could be slain at the royal commission into trade unions that Tony Abbott set up. Malcolm Turnbull did not grasp how tough an opponent he’d be in 2016. Anthony Albanese was ready for him to stumble at the Super Saturday byelections.

Once again, facing this ultimate test, watchers are wondering whether Shorten has the goods.

Nonetheless, he and others in Labor appear confident of the numbers, even if in the melee it’s not just Coalition seats up for change, but some held by Labor and independents too.

Labor is encouraged that health, its signature issue and at the centre of Shorten’s first-week campaigning, is coming through strongly in its research, and climate change has been climbing up the issues scale.

Now the holidays are over, the campaign will ramp up quickly, with a new Newspoll, increasing voter tune-in, and prepolling beginning on Monday.

Also on Monday, Morrison and Shorten meet in Perth for a debate sponsored by the West Australian newspaper, an encounter where body language might be as revealing as content.

On Friday next week, they’ll be at a “people’s forum” in Brisbane. By then, with only a fortnight left, the trajectory of the campaign may be clearer.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

View from The Hill: Can $55 million get Clive Palmer back into parliamentary game?



File 20190422 28119 b8umfi.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
UAP’s Clive Palmer: “We think we’ll win six Senate seats”.
AAP/Michael Chambers

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Can Clive Palmer buy his way back into federal parliament? The former MP, who for a while wielded enormous Senate power, expects to spend about $55 million on an advertising splurge in his bid to do so – and a good deal more if that’s what is needed.

In fact, he says he has budgeted for $80 million for his United Australia Party’s campaign, although he doesn’t think so much will be spent.

The UAP has already expended some $31.7 million in the seven months to mid-April, according to Nielsen figures reported in The Australian. Palmer’s billboards are prominent in the southern states as well as in the north.

One of the major parties has found people in its tracking research recalling the Palmer ads, even singing along with the jingle.

The UAP – successor to the Palmer United Party – is starting to show up in opinion polling.

Palmer, who is running for a Senate seat in Queensland, tells The Conversation the UAP will stand candidates in all 151 lower house seats, and will be sending “every Australian [voter] how to vote cards directly”.

ABC election analyst Antony Green believes the only prospect for the UAP is a Queensland Senate seat. But Palmer “will be competing with One Nation, the Greens, the third Labor candidate, the third LNP candidate, Katter’s Australian Party. I can’t see how he outpolls the Greens or One Nation”.

Green doesn’t give Palmer much of a chance but prudently notes, “he’s proved us wrong before”.

Unsurprisingly, Palmer says: “We think we’ll win six Senate seats”.

In Senate polling done in February-March for the Australia Institute, a progressive think tank, the UAP was on 2% nationally, and 3% in Queensland. (One Nation was on 8% nationally and 11% in Queensland in this poll. In the latest mid-April Newspoll, One Nation was 4% nationally.)

In the Australia Institute polling last November, UAP polled 1% nationally and in Queensland. New polling about to be released by the Australia Institute will show the UAP vote continuing to strengthen from its position early this year.

The quota in a half-Senate election is 14.3%, but if Palmer got a vote of about 6-7% he would have a chance of a Senate seat. Even a modest Queensland UAP vote could be relevant in the lower house via preferences, although whether the voters would follow a ticket is another matter. UAP will announce its position on preferences later the week.

The Courier Mail’s national affairs editor Dennis Atkins says: “LNP people tell me they’re picking [the UAP] up at above 10% in some seats – they say it’s the usual coastal/regional suspects of Flynn, Capricornia, Dawson, Herbert and Leichhardt.

“Labor people say they haven’t seen the party at 10% but that he’s knocking on the door of that number. Both sides agree there could be a hidden Palmer vote which people won’t admit to considering.

“I think he’ll make an impact in quite a few seats and if everything went right for his party he could end up fighting [One Nation’s] Malcolm Roberts for the last Senate seat, presuming the Greens fall short.”

In the run up to the election, Palmer has promised to pay outstanding entitlements to people thrown out of work with the collapse of his Queensland nickel refinery in 2016.

In all the circumstances, the workers might have been sceptical when it was reported the payments would only come through after the election. Palmer says that some $7-8 million will be paid in the next week into a solicitor’s trust fund, which would hold the money until the claims were finalised.

Palmer is both undeterred and unchastened by his experience between 2013 and 2016. Of his three senators elected in 2013, two – Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania and Glenn Lazarus from Queensland – split away from PUP during the term. The third, Dio Wang, from Western Australia, was defeated at the election. Palmer himself did not recontest the Queensland seat of Fairfax that he won in 2013.

Palmer says the PUP was “naïve” in 2013 – it had only been formed shortly before the election. Lambie and Lazarus had no previous experience and “cracked under pressure,” he says. “The candidates this time are much more hardened”.

He stands by the PUP policy record in the Senate, which included torpedoing some of the harsher parts of the Abbott government’s badly-received 2014 budget and certain measures that would have wound back some of Labor’s climate policy architecture.

*UPDATE: NEWSPOLL FINDS STRONG UAP VOTE IN KEY MARGINALS *

Newspoll – published in Tuesday’s Australian – shows a strong UAP vote of 14% in the Queensland marginal seat of Herbert, held by Labor, where the UAP is running former State of Origin rugby league player Greg Dowling.

The UAP is polling a substantial 8% in the WA seat of Pearce, held by Attorney-General Christian Porter.

In two other lineball marginals polled by Newspoll, the UAP was on 5% in the Victorian Liberal seat of Deakin, and on 7% in the NSW Labor seat of Lindsay.

“Averaged across the four seats, Mr Palmer commands about 8 per cent of the primary vote, eclipsing One Nation,” the Australian reported.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

From robo calls to spam texts: annoying campaign tricks that are legal



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Politicians are allowed to spam you with campaign texts.
from shutterstock.com

Graeme Orr, The University of Queensland

“Make Australia Great.” So began several million text messages, sent last week from Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. Palmer’s bumptious campaign techniques actually predated those of Donald Trump.

But now he is aping Trump’s slogans and nationalism, if with a less reactionary, more third-way ethos. The chances of Palmer rising again, like the proverbial political soufflé, are remote. But what of his campaign methods?

Mass texting (I’ll dub it “mexting”) is nothing new in electoral politics. Fifteen years ago it proved controversial, during a local election on the Gold Coast. Late night texts were sent to target young voters while they were out on the town.

The message – which came from nightclubs, urging voters to keeping licensed venues open all hours – was lost in a backlash. In those days people paid not just per text they sent, but often to receive them as well.

Mobiles have since become more ubiquitous, intimate fixtures, and we no longer pay to receive messages, nor do many of us pay for individual texts.

Palmer’s party admits to receiving more than 3,000 complaints (which he claims were robo-calls by trade unions), and he says there’s more to come. But why risk alienating the very people you are reaching out to? And how, if at all, does the law regulate such in-your-face campaign techniques?

The law on ‘mexting’?

For once, the legal how is easier than the political why. The national Spam Act of 2003 regulates unsolicited electronic messages via telephone and email. But only commercial messages, about goods and services or investments, are prohibited.

Social and political advocacy is not treated as suspect. On the contrary, it is encouraged. The Privacy Act, in particular, lets MPs and parties collect data on citizens’ views, to better personalise their messages.

Exempting politicians from privacy laws is based on the philosophy that freedom of political communication is vital to Australia’s democratic process.




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Even when government agencies, charities or political parties offer services or solicit donations or membership, they are given a free hand. All they have to do is include a link about who authorised the message.

The licence to advocate, provided it is not done anonymously, is an old one under electoral law in English-speaking democracies. The obligation to “tag” messages enables the speaker to be traced and helps us discount the source of political opinions.




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That is merely a rule about form, not manner or content. When it comes to manner, there are laws against offensive messages via mass media – whether broadcast or sent by post. (Good luck enforcing that rule in the back passages of the internet.)

There are also, famously, rules against discriminatory “hate” speech.

When it comes to content, you need to avoid defaming people. But there is no general requirement of truth, in the media or in politics, outside rules against misleading parliament, and a limited offence of materially false, paid, election-time ads in South Australia.

At the 2016 general election, the Labor Party dismayed the government and many observers, by mexting as part of its so-called “Mediscare” campaign. The texts looked like they came from Medicare itself. The trick led to a tightening of rules and a new offence of “impersonating” a Commonwealth body.

Other in-your-face campaign methods

Mexting sits in a long line of in-your-face campaign methods. The century old tradition of handing out flyers lives on, as letterboxes in marginal electorates will surely testify later this year.

Another was the “soap box” speech, trundled around shopping precincts via a loudspeaker on the back of a ute. In the middle of last century it was so typical that, as a young candidate, Gough Whitlam is said to have campaigned this way via a boat, to reach outlying suburbs not well serviced by roads.

Sound trucks show the ‘soap box’ method of campaigning is still used in Japan.
Wikimedia Commons

It is all but dead today in Australia, but lives on in the “sound trucks” of Japan.

More recent innovations are the ubiquitous “direct-mail” – a personalised if expensive variant of letterbox stuffing. Plus the “robo-call”, where a pre-recorded message is automatically dialled to thousands of telephones. I well recall picking up my landline, over dinner in 2007, to hear John Howard greet me. He happily ploughed on despite my unflattering response.

As for how, practically, a campaign assembles thousands of valid mobile numbers… well, Palmer’s party says it has no list. It may have hired a marketing firm to send out the texts. Commercial entities, notoriously, collect and trade files of phone numbers, postal and email addresses, and more.

Still, why? A cynic might say that for Palmer, any notoriety is good notoriety. His gambit has people talking about him again. Minor parties expect to alienate people: their goal is to attract a few percent of the vote.

Why major parties employ such tactics is another matter. They have to build broader coalitions of voters. But there is a cost-benefit analysis at work. Electronic messaging can reach swathes of people more cheaply than broadcast advertising, which in any event lacks the reach it once had. And negative advertising, like Mediscare, tends to work.

As it is, modern parties lack mass memberships and cannot rely primarily on organic influence or door-knocking by activists.

So while spamming, in text or audio, seems perverse – and is unlikely to be as effective as targeted or viral messaging on social media, or community-based campaigning – it won’t disappear.

For my part, I won’t grumble about a text from Mr Palmer popping up in my pocket. It beats his huge yellow billboards in terms of a blight on our public spaces.The Conversation

Graeme Orr, Professor of Law, The University of Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Clive Palmer has a Trump-style slogan, but is no sure bet to return to parliament


Nick Economou, Monash University

With August 4th looming as the earliest possible date for an election of the full House of Representatives and half the Senate, the founder of the now-defunct Palmer United Party and former MP, Clive Palmer, has flagged his intention to run again. The new incarnation of the Palmer tilt will be the “United Australia Party”, which was also the name of the predecessor to the modern Liberal party.

Presumably in a bid to hitch himself to Donald Trump-style populism in the United States, Palmer’s early election advertising signals his desire to “Make Australia Great”.

Billboards featuring Palmer, his new party name and the slogan are popping up all over Australia.

Right-wing struggles

Palmer’s re-emergence seems somewhat ludicrous given the disasters that befell his former party following the 2013 election that saw him and three senators elected. For those who have forgotten, the PUP imploded almost the moment it tried to have the first meeting of its new parliamentary team, and Palmer was also pursued in the courts over his business interests.

The only survivor of the PUP era was Tasmanian Jacqui Lambie, and even she was unable to see out her next senatorial term, thanks to problems with her citizenship.

Given all this, it would seem Palmer’s return to the fray is another manifestation of his narcissistic nature, although there is also a strong hint of opportunism behind the formation of the UAP.




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In the past two general elections, an array of minor right-wing parties – be they anti-environment, socially conservative or populist – have captured seats in parliament, only to later disintegrate between election cycles. Presumably, Palmer sees a potential constituency and he is out to win its vote.

Palmer’s UAP is yet another in the pantheon of right–of-centre minor parties that have grown in number over the last three electoral cycles that have been notable for their volatility and lack of discipline.

The re-emergence of Pauline Hanson and the One Nation party is a case in point. Having struggled to survive after the 1998 election, One Nation re-appeared in time for the 2016 Senate vote, securing four seats and exercising some cross-bench influence over the balance of power in the upper chamber.




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The mice that may yet roar: who are the minor right-wing parties?


However, from the moment the parliamentary team got together, One Nation started to fall apart through the disqualification of senators and ongoing tensions between Hanson and the remnants of her party.

Indeed, the implosion of One Nation since the 2016 election may well have been the catalyst for Palmer’s re-mobilisation, especially in Queensland, where the populist, anti-establishment vote has been quite strong for some time.

Palmer has been the beneficiary of this vote in the past. In 2013, Palmer won the lower house seat of Fairfax and Glen Lazarus, who led the PUP Senate ticket in Queensland, easily secured a seat in the upper chamber.

The PUP lost the populist vote to One Nation in the 2016 election, but with One Nation’s recent struggles, Palmer clearly thinks he can win back this segment of the electorate and return to national politics.

Uncertain return

There are some serious obstacles ahead of him, though. First, it remains to be seen if his candidacy will be viewed as credible by voters, given what happened the last time he ran.

It’s also worth remembering the structural barriers that stand in the way of candidates from outside the major party system. Palmer’s party has flagged its intention to contest every lower house seat, but his candidates will be unlikely to garner 35% of the vote anywhere – the minimum prerequisite for winning a seat.

The UAP’s best hope is in the Senate, and especially in Queensland. But here, changes to the Senate voting system will also hurt the party’s chances.

Unlike the 2013 election, Palmer and his party will be contending with a quasi-optional preferential voting system thanks to changes made by Malcolm Turnbull’s government two years ago. There is no guarantee all the primary votes cast for the plethora of tickets running for Senate in each state will flow through as preferences to other right-of-centre candidates.




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“Preference-whispering” arrangements that were so important to the PUP’s success in 2013 will not be in place for the next Senate election. Indeed, the next election will be a half-Senate contest, which will make it even harder for minor party candidates to succeed.

All of this serves to remind that, despite their larger-than-life personas, these minor-party populists like Palmer and Hanson win very small shares of the vote.

While he might try to plagiarise the American president, the truth is that Palmer is no Donald Trump. Trump was the official candidate of one of the two major parties that dominate the US political system and won nearly half of the popular vote in the 2016 election.

Palmer is a fringe player who will be depending on the interchange of preferences with other fringe players and the vagaries of the Senate voting system to be able to gain a foothold in the Australian parliament.

The ConversationHe will also need to hope the Australian electorate has either forgotten or forgiven him for his performance the last time he was in the parliament.

Nick Economou, Senior Lecturer, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

View from The Hill: Clive Palmer’s back on the trail, with Brian Burston in tow


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Surely Clive Palmer is one soufflé unlikely to rise twice – although predictions are hazardous when we’re talking about a man dedicated to buying votes.

It beggars belief that Palmer, discredited in the political shambles and business disasters and disgraces of the last few years, can be starting out again, planning to run candidates in “all seats” in the House of Representatives and for the Senate.

The comings and goings into, out of and within the Senate this term have made that house a travesty.

The changes to the Senate voting system will curb the ability of “rats and mice” – micro parties and independents – to win seats at the election. But any voters so angry about the more conventional parties that they are tempted to look Palmer’s way again might like to consider the shenanigans on Monday.

Senator Brian Burston, formerly of One Nation, after his acrimonious divorce from Pauline Hanson told the Senate just after 10am that he was sitting as an independent.

He was one of three senators making statements about their new affiliations. Tasmania’s Steve Martin, who was on the Jacqui Lambie election ticket but had sat as an independent, reported he’d joined the Nationals since the full Senate last met; Fraser Anning, formerly of the One Nation ticket who’d also been an independent, put on record that he had now moved to the Katter’s Australian Party.




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An hour or so after his declaration, Burston had publicly re-partnered – as had already been anticipated. Now he “leads” the United Australia Party (UAP) in the Senate – its sole member. In today’s Senate, you don’t need company to have a party.

The UAP is the new iteration of the Palmer United Party, which made a splash at the 2013 election but had drowned by 2016.

It will be recalled by those who follow these things that Palmer had originally wanted to use the UAP moniker, ripping off the name of the major conservative party of the 1930s and early 1940s.

But someone had grabbed a similar name ahead of him and so we had PUP, three of whose candidates reached the Senate on Palmer’s popularity and money, while the man himself won the Queensland seat of Fairfax. Then the PUP family imploded, just as the Hanson clan has done in this parliament.

Palmer, welcoming Burston as his face in the Senate, said he looked “forward to a long and happy relationship with him”. Clive is not a man who learns from experience.

Palmer also doesn’t like “name” parties these days. “The structure of one-person parties has been shown to be a failure. It is not about Derryn Hinch, Jacqui Lambie, Clive Palmer, Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernardi or Bob Katter, that’s not what matters,” he said in a statement. Never mind that Palmer has huge billboards of himself around the place over the slogan “MAKE AUSTRALIA GREAT”.

“What matters is that we need to unite the country to do what’s best for all our citizens”. Palmer claimed to have had a big response to his new party.

Whatever the truth of that, having a parliamentary representative means the UAP doesn’t need the 500 members otherwise required for registration. It’s a two-way street – Burston knew any prospect of his being re-elected would be better if he had a rich backer. When Hanson wanted someone else to head the next NSW Senate ticket, he was shopping around.

Palmer thrives on hyperbole and publicity. His Monday news conference with Burston was typically farcical, with its clashes with the media and plenty of blather. Palmer praised Burston’s “courage” – Burston publicly fell out with Hanson over her breaking the deal with the government to back the company tax cuts – and his “foresight to stand up for the people who elected him, to aim for their aspirations”.

The Labor member for Herbert, Cathy O’Toole broke protocol and joined the fray, confronting Palmer about the fallout out from the collapse of his company Queensland Nickel in 2016. Later Palmer said he was “discussing with my political advisors” the possibility of contesting Herbert.

The ConversationAmong his declarations Palmer said that “Australians are sick of parties based on vanity”. Let’s hope so.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Pauline unplugged lets rip against Senate colleague



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Pauline Hanson has had a spectacular meltdown on live television.
Sky News

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Pauline Hanson has had a spectacular meltdown on live television, sounding near hysterical as she denounced her Senate colleague Brian Burston, who has refused to follow her backflip on the government’s company tax cuts.

In an extraordinary Thursday night interview on Sky Hanson, who accused Burston of trying to defect to the Shooters party, said it was not the first time he had stabbed her in the back.

Tearful and shouting, she said: “For him to turn around and do this to me, it’s hard.”

But “I am not finished, and if you think Brian Burston or anyone else will finish me, they will not. At the end of the day I will win.”

“This hurts me, it hurts me deeply… it means so much to me what I’m trying to do”, she said.

“But I’m going to keep going and I’m going to get good people in that parliament next to me.

“I’m sorry to the Australian people that this has happened again. But it was the same with Rod Culleton and it was the same with Fraser Anning. They haven’t got the intestinal fortitude, it’s all about themselves – self-serving.”

Burston also appeared later in the program, saying Hanson “has her moods” and predicting “she’ll come back down to earth”.

He said they had earlier had a phone conversation. “She was very, very angry and raised her voice. I ended up hanging up on her because I could not make any sense of what she was saying”.

The Hanson-Burston rift has come to a head after a report in Thursday’s Australian in which Burston said he would support the government’s company tax cut. He said he didn’t want to cause angst in One Nation, “but once I make a handshake with somebody – that’s it”.

This defied Hanson’s announcement last week that she was breaking One Nation’s earlier deal with the government.

Hanson’s move was seen as pitching to the coming Longman byelection, which will test the One Nation vote. But this spectacular public falling out and the split over the tax legislation – which comes to a vote within weeks – will undermine Hanson’s attempt to keep the party’s support up in Longman.




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Hanson said Burston had approached the Shooters party – a claim that party backed up, while saying it was not interested in picking him up. But Burston said “the claim that I’ve approached the Shooters Party is totally and absolutely false”.

He would still be a member of One Nation, “unless Pauline decides otherwise, of course.”

“I think that there is a way through this. I think that Pauline and I should sit down and have a drink and kiss and make up so to speak if she’s prepared to do that,” he said.

“I have no intentions of destroying One Nation or causing angst – perhaps if I thought the article in today’s Australian was going to do that, perhaps I would have had second thoughts. But I had no idea that this would be the reaction from Pauline.”

Burston was recently sacked as party whip – he told Sky this was “a little bit of a payback I think, it was a little bit of punishment for not supporting her position [on the company tax cuts].”

There has also been a suggestion Hanson does not want Burston as the One Nation lead candidate in NSW at the next election.

The ConversationHanson, who started the term with four Senate votes, currently has three – which gives her power to veto government legislation for which crossbench support is required. If she lost Burston she would forfeit that veto power.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.