Pauline Hanson stymies inquiry into Angus Taylor’s intervention on endangered grasslands


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Pauline Hanson has saved Energy Minister Angus Taylor from an inquiry into his intervention over endangered grasslands, with a Labor motion defeated 33-32 in the Senate.

Earlier Taylor defended his intervention in a statement to the House of Representatives, insisting he had obtained a meeting with officials on the grasslands in response to representations from local farmers, and there was no canvassing of the compliance issues that were on foot relating to land in which he had an interest.

The opposition continued to pursue Taylor in question time, but it was already clear it would not have the numbers in the Senate for the inquiry. Hanson said One Nation, which has two votes, would not back a “witch hunt”. Labor’s motion had the support of the Greens, Centre Alliance and Jacqui Lambie. The other crossbencher, Cory Bernardi, voted with the government.

In 2017 Taylor sought a briefing on the classification as endangered of the natural temperate grassland. The environment minister at the time was Josh Frydenberg who was not, however, at the meeting that occurred in response to Taylor’s representation.

At the time there was an investigation into the clearing of a section of the grassland on the property of the company Jam Land Pty Ltd, of which Taylor’s brother Richard is a director. Angus Taylor has an interest in Jam Land through his family company.

Taylor told parliament that when he took up the matter there “had been strong antagonism expressed by the farming community about federal and state native vegetation regulation.”




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Government pulls out all stops to prevent inquiry into Angus Taylor


In late 2016 and early 2017 he had spoken with farmers in his Hume electorate and nearby about their worries with the listing of the grassland.

“On 21 February 2017, I spoke with a farmer near Yass who expressed strong and detailed concerns about the revised listing, pointing out that it had occurred despite the concerns of the National Farmers’ Federation and NSW Farmers, and with little consultation with farmers themselves,” he said.

“All of these farmers were completely disconnected from our family farming operations.”

Taylor said the revised listing of the grassland – which is in both the Hume and Eden-Monaro electorates – “would ultimately halt pasture improvement and efficient weed control across the Southern Tablelands and Monaro” and “has the potential to do untold damage to agricultural productivity throughout the region”.

“I sought a briefing on the revised listing from the then minister’s office, which I made clear was not to include any discussion of compliance matters.”

Taylor said FOI documents already released showed that an official had written that the meeting was “to answer questions on the technical aspects of the listing outcome”, and would “stay out of completely” any compliance action underway.

This was how the meeting had gone, Taylor said. “At no time during this meeting, was any compliance matter, or any personal interest of mine, discussed. At that meeting we discussed precisely what the department had said we would discuss.”

The opposition pressed Taylor to produce any correspondence from complaining farmers. Nothing was forthcoming.




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Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong accused Taylor of using his ministerial position to “shore his investments up”.

She told the Senate: “Mr Morrison says Mr Taylor has one KPI, to be the minister for lower prices. But he is the minister to increase the value of his own investments.

“Angus Taylor failed to declare a direct financial interest in a company [in the declaration of interests register]. But worse, he then used his position, as a minister, to defend that company’s interests after it was accused of breaking the law.”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.

Government pulls out all stops to prevent inquiry into Angus Taylor



Energy Minister Angus Taylor is under pressure over a potential Senate enquiry.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The government has lobbied crossbenchers with fresh material in a last minute effort to head off a Senate inquiry into Angus Taylor’s intervention on endangered grassland.

It is expected to produce the material publicly on Monday before the Senate is due to decide whether to establish the inquiry.

Earlier story

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has become the decisive player in whether Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s actions over NSW endangered grassland are probed by a Senate inquiry.

Taylor, seen by the opposition as a weak parliamentary performer, came under sustained attack in question time last week and faces continued heat.

Labor is putting him under pressure on two fronts – his interest through a family company in a farm that is under investigation for land clearing, and his portfolio issues of high energy prices and rising emissions.

In 2017 – when Josh Frydenberg was environment minister – Taylor sought a government briefing on the classification as endangered of the natural temperate grassland. He says he was acting on representations from constituents in his NSW seat of Hume.

There was an investigation at the time into the poisoning of a section of the grassland on the property of the company Jam Land Pty Ltd, of which Taylor’s brother Richard is a director. Angus Taylor has an interest in Jam Land through his family company. Although Taylor’s declaration of interests lists his family company, it does not include that company’s interest in Jam Land. Taylor says this omission is within the rules.

A compliance officer was at the briefing.

Under the Labor motion to be moved on Monday a Senate inquiry would examine

  • whether a compliance investigation by the environment department in relation to the natural temperate grassland of the south eastern highlands ecological community had been adversely affected by the actions of Taylor, Frydenberg, or anyone else.

  • whether the conduct of Taylor and Frydenberg, in relation to the compliance investigation, represented “a proper and disinterested exercise of their responsibilities”.

The opposition last week failed in its move for an inquiry. But since then, Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick has signalled a change of mind.

Patrick had been dissuaded from backing an inquiry by material the government showed him. He has subsequently decided the material is irrelevant, saying that after studying the reporting on the issue and federal and NSW FOIs “I am now prepared to support an inquiry”.

This change leaves One Nation as crucial – the motion won’t pass if it opposes. Pauline Hanson did not support Labor’s push last week, but on Sunday was being coy.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts said on Sunday night the party was still weighing its position and would decide on Monday morning.

“We’re not going to allow ministers to get away with an abuse of power. But we’re not going to allow witch hunts,” he said.

He said the issue had been hurting farmers since the Howard government caused the problem by driving, through the states, native vegetation legislation “that stole farmers’ property rights”.

“Angus has been caught up in this – now that he’s involved, the government is interested, ” Roberts said.

Taylor accused Labor of a “grubby smear campaign”

“My indirect interest in Jam Land Pty Ltd has been widely reported in the media, and was declared in accordance with the rules,” he said. “I have had no association with the compliance action, and I have never made representation in relation to it.” He said he had been “sticking up for the farmers in my electorate”.

Labor’s climate spokesman Mark Butler said Taylor was “embroiled in a growing scandal over whether or not he sought to interfere in a compliance action, by his own department, over illegal land clearing on a property in which he had a financial interest which he had not disclosed.

“He had not disclosed that financial interest to the parliament, to the Australian people and it would appear not even to the Prime Minister.”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.

Grattan on Friday: Those tax cuts test Albanese and provoke Hanson


The proposed 3 stage tax plan will cost $158 billion.
Shutterstock

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

As hissy fits go, it was a beauty. Pauline Hanson was very cross indeed. Senate leader Mathias Cormann hadn’t called her, even though he was reportedly negotiating on the government’s $158 billion package of income tax cuts.

Venting on Sky on Wednesday night, Hanson said: “I don’t think he’s got the guts to pick up the phone and actually talk to me. And to turn around and say that he’s negotiating with crossbenchers is not the truth, because he’s not negotiating with me”.

She went on to rail about the Liberals preferencing One Nation below Labor, doing “grubby deals” with Clive Palmer and trying to destroy her.

The three-stage 10-year package, which promises an extra tax offset for low and middle income earners, is the big game in town for the first days of the new parliament, which opens the week after next, and it’s causing some grief.




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Despite the government’s confident words during the election campaign, the Tax Office has declined to pay the offset of up to $540 until the legislation is passed. This means the July 1 deadline from when the offset was supposed to be available will be missed. (Although people will get from July 1 the tax cut in the pipeline from last year’s budget.)

If the tax legislation is passed quickly, a few weeks’ delay for the offset is no big deal, especially as many people won’t be putting in their tax returns for a while. But the pressure on the government to deliver the first stage of its plan ASAP – not least because the economy needs the stimulus – reduces its ability to hold out indefinitely on its insistence it won’t split the package to accommodate objections to the later cuts.

Labor is in even more of a bind. It is happy to tick off the first stage – worth $15 billion – but has yet to decide its position on stages two (costing $48 billion and starting 2022-23) and three (costing $95 billion and commencing 2024-25).

Its objections are particularly to the last stage, which delivers cuts for higher income earners. Both the later stages come after the next election, due early 2022.

Those urging Labor should try to block at least stage three argue, apart from the equity issue, that mounting economic uncertainty makes it irresponsible to lock in such big tax cuts out in the “never never”.

On the other hand, a strong case can be made on grounds of principle and practicality for Labor to wave the whole package through.

The question of when a party or politician has a “mandate” is vexed.

On one view an opposition can claim it possesses a mandate to stay faithful to positions it advanced before an election even after it has lost that election.

But when the Morrison government went to the polls with the tax package as its prime policy, it does seem to have a strong case to say the parliament should pass it.

The same point would have applied if Bill Shorten had won. He would have had a mandate for his proposed changes to franking credits and negative gearing – both opposed by the Coalition.




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It doesn’t help maintain faith in the political system, or in election promises, for parties to try to govern from opposition, despite the Senate’s voting system sometimes facilitating this. Voters should be able to expect that major election policies of the winning side are implemented (perhaps with some alterations at the edges by parliament).

It is another matter when, as happened with the Abbott government’s 2014 budget, big new controversial initiatives are brought in soon after the election campaign, during which they were not flagged.

The practical reason against Labor going to the barricades on the tax package is that as it regroups, there is little to be gained by taking on this particular battle, especially when it is trying to reposition itself as appealing better to “aspirational” voters and leaving behind language attacking the “top end of town”.

Labor might be right that the proposed long term tax cuts could look irresponsible later, but if so, that is a fight to be had at the next election, when the ALP could highlight doubts it had previously registered.

There are divisions in Labor about what to do. Victorian MP Peter Khalil this week said if the government won’t split the package, Labor should vote for it all. Anne Aly, a backbencher from Western Australia, expressed concern about the package’s implications against a darkening economic outlook. The ALP has asked the government for more information. Anthony Albanese is consulting within the party before shadow cabinet decides the position it takes to caucus.

While the government is focusing the rhetorical pressure on Labor, it has an eye to the alternative route – to get the package through via the crossbench.




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For Cormann, the new Senate is easier than the last, partly because the non-Green crossbench has been slashed at the election.

To pass legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens the government needs four of the six non-Green crossbenchers. These include two from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, two from Centre Alliance, South Australia’s Cory Bernardi, and Tasmania’s Jacqui Lambie.

Bernardi will vote with the Coalition. He has said he wants to help the Morrison government as much as possible, and on Thursday he announced he is winding up his Australian Conservatives party. It’s not clear whether he’ll seek to rejoin the Liberals, from whom he defected in 2017, or even stay in the parliament.

Cormann has been in discussion with Centre Alliance about their push for lower gas prices, and an agreement on some action appears likely. While this deal is formally separate from the tax package, he and they both have that front of mind.

This would leave one vote to be collected.

Lambie refuses to comment on her position. Hanson said earlier this month she was “not sold” on the current package and “therefore not likely to support the measures” – and proposed some of the funds be used for a coal-fired power station and a water security scheme.

After Wednesday’s outburst, Cormann was (of course) on the phone to her at crack of dawn Thursday. On her account, he said: “I’m not negotiating with crossbenchers with this at all. We have our three stages. We’re going to pass that no matter what”.

The government aims to keep the heat on Albanese. By the same token, if the crossbench has to come into play, Cormann won’t want a repeat of last term, when he couldn’t muster the numbers to deliver tax relief to big companies.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.

One Nation, guns and the Queensland question: what does it all mean for the 2019 federal election?



File 20190328 139371 1uycvcc.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Pauline Hanson claims the Al Jazeera undercover “sting”, which has grabbed international headlines, was a media “stitch-up”.
AAP/Dan Peled

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

Of all the controversies to conceivably bring Pauline Hanson undone, private discussions about gun law amendments wasn’t an obvious candidate.

Yet her recorded comments about the 1996 Port Arthur massacre and subsequent gun law reforms are potentially destructive for her One Nation party. Only potentially, though; Hanson’s supporters have long shown a propensity to forgive or shrug off her party’s outlandish or shocking assertions.




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Already, Hanson and party colleagues have shifted blame for the Al Jazeera “sting” to a media “stitch-up” and, they claimed, foreign political interference by an “Islamist media organisation”.

Presumably some Hanson adherents will find that plausible – the party has made anti-Muslim rhetoric part of its regular platform. Other One Nation supporters might now question the principles the party claims to stand for.

Why guns policy?

Why would One Nation seemingly risk whatever political capital it possesses by flirting with changes to gun controls and seeking assistance (if not funding) from gun lobby groups?

The party’s nativist policy positions on refugees, immigration and foreign investment are well known and readily detailed on its website. Until now, gun law amendment has sat well behind these. One Nation’s listed policies on firearms regulations include increasing penalties for gun-related crime and “streamlining” weapon licensing requirements. Not exactly controversial stuff.

But it is important to remember that the party first emerged in the wake of the Port Arthur shootings and rural resistance to the Howard government’s gun ownership reforms. Hanson and her candidates campaigned in the party’s early years on relaxing John Howard’s laws. They also benefited politically from a mainly regional backlash against these – and against Howard’s National Party partners.




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Recently highlighted connections between Australian gun lobby groups and minor parties, including One Nation and Katter’s Australian Party, bring the backdrop to this policy agenda into sharper relief.

One Nation’s original and more recent platform caters to disaffected, largely non-metropolitan constituents who feel the party’s anti-immigration, anti-foreign business and anti-government intervention policies “speak for them”.

In its recent incarnation, One Nation has tried – and found ready accomplices in sections of the media – to “mainstream” its appeal and some of its positions. It’s been observed that the party’s Senate members have regularly supported the Coalition government’s legislative agenda during this term, on matters ranging from the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to reduced welfare spending.

The party’s suite of published policies covers matters of concern to many Australians, such as power prices, transport infrastructure, water supply and jobs creation.

In this respect, it was perhaps not so surprising that Liberal MPs should describe the party as “more responsible” than its earlier manifestation. Even former prime minister Tony Abbott, Hanson’s one-time political nemesis, endorsed One Nation owing to its “constructive” relationship with the government in parliament.

But this normalisation fails to mask the party’s extreme stances or inconsistent policy positions – even between its own members. One Nation adheres to curious policies decrying United Nations infringement on our sovereignty, as well as questionable claims about evidence-based climate policy.

Then there is the attention-seeking behaviour: Hanson wearing a burqa in the Senate chamber; or Queensland Senate candidate Steve Dickson suggesting the Safe Schools program involved teachers instructing students in masturbation techniques; or New South Wales upper house candidate Mark Latham proposing Indigenous welfare recipients undergo DNA testing. Stunts like these place One Nation firmly on the political fringe – though not without fellow dwellers. Notoriously, Coalition senators scrambled to backtrack on supporting Hanson’s Senate motion decreeing that “it’s OK to be white”.

Stunts such as Pauline Hanson wearing a burqa in the Senate place One Nation on the political fringe.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

This latest party engagement in seeking out overseas gun lobby assistance highlights another inconsistency, given Hanson’s vote in the Senate supporting new restrictions on foreign donations.

The Queensland question

Considering this, why do One Nation’s policies seemingly still appeal to significant numbers of voters, particularly in Queensland? Traces of an entrenched conservative political culture thumbing its nose at “the establishment” partly explain the party’s appeal in Queensland (and perhaps some of Peter Dutton’s ill-judged, racially charged comments as immigration minister).

It’s a culture underpinned by a history of less diverse migrant influence than other parts of the country and arguably a more wary, paternalistic past regarding Indigenous and minority communities.

Another reason is the accentuated city-country divide in Australia’s most decentralised mainland state. Here, some agrarian-themed party policies – such as for dam building or vegetation management – directly pander to regional voters. As a minor party not in government, though, One Nation has limited opportunity to carry these through, beyond aiming to wield balance-of-power influence in the Senate.

More telling is One Nation’s claimed inheritance of an old National Party constituency. It is one that feels “left behind” – a sentiment the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party successfully tapped into in the NSW election.

As in the past, the Nationals will seek to differentiate themselves from their Coalition partners and marginalise One Nation and other far-right parties ahead of the 2019 federal election.

But that’s no easy feat in Queensland. Since the Liberal and National parties merged in the state to form the LNP in 2008, there has been no distinct outward National Party. Some rural and regional voters in Queensland have felt unrepresented to a certain extent, and their grievances have placed many in a resurgent One Nation camp.

The party’s identification with aggrieved outer-urban and regional conservative interests keeps its voters’ preferences an issue. Again, this is especially so in Queensland, where several LNP MPs hold seats in such areas on tight margins.

But following this week’s revelations, and particularly in the wake of the Christchurch shootings, the preference issue will bedevil the Coalition in this state and elsewhere.




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Guns, politics and policy: what can we learn from Al Jazeera’s undercover NRA sting?


The prime minister’s latest announcement directing the Liberal Party’s state branches to preference Labor ahead of One Nation sends a needed message, but not unequivocally. It apparently leaves Liberals free to place One Nation ahead of the Greens or others, and is ambiguous on how this will apply to all LNP MPs in Queensland, or possibly influence Nationals MPs elsewhere.

But the clamouring of Queensland’s Nationals-aligned MPs for new coal-fired power stations – mirroring One Nation policy – indicates their likely preference leanings in favour of the minor party (and presumably leaves the Greens last of all).

The recorded actions and comments of Hanson and her party colleagues could bring a political reckoning for One Nation at the coming federal election. Voters will soon judge if the party warrants their electoral support and decide if this new controversy is a bridge too far.

For its part, the Coalition is treading a line between getting its hands burned over preference “deals”, as happened at Western Australia’s last election, or doing as John Howard (ultimately) did and jettisoning One Nation preferences altogether.The Conversation

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland

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

Guns, politics and policy: what can we learn from Al Jazeera’s undercover NRA sting?


Samara McPhedran, Griffith University

Al Jazeera’s undercover investigation into the US National Rifle Association (NRA) has gained international headlines, partly because of One Nation political wannabes drunkenly bragging about how important they could be if only they had the money.

None of this should come as a surprise. You would have to be living under a rock to not know that the NRA has money, lobbies with it, and uses a standard set of PR tactics. Likewise, nobody has ever accused One Nation of being sophisticated or lacking grandiose delusions.




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View from The Hill: James Ashby rocks a few boats, including his own


However, in a carefully timed release to the ABC, a report commissioned by Gun Control Australia and Getup! claims gun control in Australia is being eroded because of the gun lobby.

In reality, Australia’s gun laws remain virtually the same as when each state and territory introduced them more than 20 years ago. The last major change was in 2017, when all jurisdictions agreed to ban lever-action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than five rounds of ammunition. Hardly “watering down”.

What is really going on?

Simple: when all we hear is guns, guns, guns, it means an election is on the horizon. It is not about guns, but politics.

Over the past few years, regular as clockwork, we have seen both major parties wheel out campaigns around gun laws, aided and abetted by the Greens. This occurred most recently in New South Wales, with the Liberal-Nationals running attack ads against the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

The campaigns involve one or more of: releasing data obtained under Freedom of Information about how many guns are legally owned; claiming gun laws are being (or have been, or will be) dangerously watered down if an opposing major party or rising minor party gains power; and making scary statements about a well-funded gun lobby (which is somehow all-powerful despite having changed little in over two decades).

The goal is to create fear, in the expectation this will translate to voting patterns. Politicians also like to have an “enemy” to rally against, to display their own virtues. At times, this tactic has worked. It is a fair bet that politicians’ reactions to One Nation’s buffoonery reflect the hope that it will work again.

Based on past voting patterns, it is likely both major parties anticipate One Nation robbing them of votes in the upcoming federal election and are looking for ways to blunt that. The mudslinging over preferences makes this clear.

If the recent New South Wales state election is anything to go by, though, voters seem to be ignoring gun campaigns and making their own decisions based on much bigger issues.

However, there is a genuine danger arising from the Al Jazeera report. Unfortunately, we can now expect that anybody who suggests that effective firearm policy takes time and careful thought – and that it might not be as simple as it looks – will be denounced as an NRA shill. This is a silencing tactic that does absolutely nothing to improve the impoverished and tribalised nature of public debate in this country.

As New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently observed, firearm policy and legislation is a complex area. In addition to the technical aspects, evidence about what does and does not work to reduce gun violence is nowhere near as clear-cut as it is sometimes made out to be. Well-intentioned measures can have unintended consequences, which we should learn from and attempt to avoid.

It is not far-right madness to say that if a policy gains appeal primarily because of the emotions surrounding it, rather than on its merits, then it might not be an effective policy. It is not dangerous extremism to suggest that sound legislation comes from careful reflection and robust debate. It is not irrational to raise concerns about the negative outcomes that can arise when reacting is turned into a virtue and thinking into a vice.




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Did Al Jazeera’s undercover investigation into One Nation overstep the mark?


In fact, a rational and careful approach, based on rigorous evaluation and calm, measured discussion, is the very foundation of evidence-based policy – a much-touted model of how to approach decision-making.

Political failure to adopt evidence-based policy – despite politicians paying it lip service – is the subject of much scholarly teeth-gnashing, and for good reason. Some of the most ill-fated, costly and objectionable policies we have seen in Australia in recent years – in areas including immigration, Indigenous affairs, and youth violence, to give just three examples – have come as a result of ignoring evidence-based policy. We are quick to call these out, and rightly so. Why behave differently about guns?

If we are serious about wanting thoughtful and well-considered decisions, we cannot pick and choose the issues to which we apply reflection and analysis. And if we do want to pick and choose, then we cannot complain when politicians do the same with the issues we really want them to do better on.The Conversation

Samara McPhedran, Director, Homicide Research Unit/Deputy Director, Violence Research and Prevention Program, Griffith University

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

View from The Hill: James Ashby rocks a few boats, including his own


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

It’s appalling, sinister and faintly ludicrous that Pauline Hanson’s right-hand man James Ashby and former Queensland MP Steve Dickson played footsie with the American gun lobby, talking up One Nation’s book, trailing their coats for gun (or any other) gold.

That they fell victim to an Al Jazeera “sting”, trusting a man in an Akubra whom they now call a “spy”, is stunning, but sort of fitting. It was Ashby who was involved in a different kind of sting that brought down former speaker Peter Slipper.

Indeed, Ashby’s political career is a dark, rolling soap opera. Currently he’s banned from entering parliament house over a physical altercation with a former One Nation senator.

These two political cowboys are crying foul after being duped and publicly trashed by an extraordinarily elaborate Al Jazeera plot.

They’ve called in the police and ASIO and denounced political interference from a “Middle Eastern country”. Al Jazeera is based in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar. They say they didn’t set out to seek money, let alone to weaken gun laws. They just wanted to tap into America’s National Rifle Association about campaigning techniques.

As for those damning recorded references to A$10 million, A$20 million, they’d “got on the sauce” – it’s what happens when there are “three men talking together and having scotches for about three or four hours”.

They might as well not bother with the spin and excuses. Claims about “context” are lame; they damned themselves most times they opened their mouths, and that was often.

The whole sordid episode, in long version, is there in pictures and audio. Ashby and Dickson grabbed the entree to the US gun advocates, and if the millions of dollars they fantasised about had materialised from somewhere they’d have grabbed them too.

Subject, no doubt, to what Hanson said – a couple of months later she voted to ban foreign donations.




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Did Al Jazeera’s undercover investigation into One Nation overstep the mark?


Not that the dollars were a prospect. Just as, all those years ago in the 1970s, the money the Labor party sought from Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Baath party was never seen. It’s like that when you deal with dubious characters – or ones who are much too clever for you.

Ashby knew he was playing a dangerous game; as we hear him saying in the Al Jazeera documentary, “If it gets out, it’ll fucking rock the boat”. And Hanson, though invited, sensed this was a trip not to be on.

Well, boats have been rocked. Hanson’s for one. Scott Morrison’s for another. To say nothing of Ashby’s.

The extraordinary expose is a blow for the One Nation leader, days after her star recruit Mark Latham was elected to the NSW upper house. Hanson – who did not appear in public on Tuesday, reportedly feeling very unwell – and Ashby are joined at the hip. He is the political figure to whom she is closest, and she’s stood by him in previous embarrassments. She should, of course, immediately send him packing.




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How much the affair will hit the One Nation vote is a matter of conjecture. Logically, you’d expect it to hit One Nation substantially, especially coming after the New Zealand massacre. There has been much praise for the strength and value of Australia’s gun laws.

But I’m not sure logic is the best prism to use here. Hanson has a certain Teflon quality in the eyes of her supporters, who routinely have overlooked the chaos (and worse) around her shambolic party.

Many of those in One Nation heartland are protesting against perceived grievances; they may see this as a sideshow. Anyway, some potential One Nation voters would be quite in sync with the gun lobby. On Saturday in NSW, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers picked up two more seats.

The Ashby-Dickson debacle complicates Scott Morrison’s struggle in handling what were already awkward questions about his attitude to preferencing One Nation.

Since the Christchurch killings Morrison has been on the barbed wire fence when repeatedly pressed on whether the Coalition should or would put One Nation last on how-to-vote cards.

In the Coalition this is another North-South issue, like coal and climate change. Southern Liberals insist One Nation should be at the bottom of voting tickets. Cabinet Minister Kelly O’Dwyer (retiring from the Melbourne seat of Higgins) said on Tuesday, “I can’t see any reason why One Nation wouldn’t be preferenced last”.

In Queensland it’s another story. Nationals Ken O’Dowd on Monday said One Nation should be above Greens and ALP.

In general, the preference debate is encouraging the Coalition to demonise the Greens even more than usual, with some in the government painting them as being as bad as, or worse than, One Nation.

Morrison initially used his favourite look-over-there tactic, trying to fend off the questions by saying there would be no preference deal with One Nation. That didn’t wash. No one ever thought there would be a “deal” (quite apart from remembering the Liberals’ bad experience in the Western Australian election, when they did a deal).

The issue is where the Liberals and Nationals decide to put One Nation on their tickets, regardless of what One Nation does with its preferences.

As the preference debate has raged, some are urging Morrison to take John Howard’s “principled” position. Howard says One Nation should be placed last. Talk of Howard’s “principle” overlooks that he was dragged to this position. He was considering to accept a seat-by-seat approach, until it became untenable.

In the wake of the Al Jazeera revelations, Morrison on Tuesday hopped into One Nation while making a direct appeal to those inclined to vote for it.

It was “abhorrent” that its officials “basically sought to sell Australia’s gun laws to the highest bidders, to a foreign buyer,” Morrison said.

He went on: “I’m not interested in getting One Nation’s preferences, I am interested in getting their primary vote”. The answer to the grievances of these votes “is not One Nation, the answer is not to go to those extremes. The answer is the Liberal and National Parties”.

But that is not the answer to the preference question. And on that Morrison won’t be drawn. It’s a matter for closer to the election, he says, when all the candidates can be seen. (One convenient diversionary line is: what about if there are Fraser Anning candidates?)

The signs are that come the election, the Coalition preference picture will likely be a patchwork, with One Nation being treated benignly at least in parts of Queensland. Possibly Morrison couldn’t stop that if he wanted to; probably he doesn’t want to.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.

Did Al Jazeera’s undercover investigation into One Nation overstep the mark?


Andrew Dodd, University of Melbourne

The sheer audacity of Al Jazeera’s three-year ruse is astounding.

The news company’s investigation unit has carried out a sting that has captured both the National Rifle Association of the United States and Australia’s One Nation Party in all sorts of compromising positions.

The series, “How to sell a massacre”, has exposed the NRA’s manipulative media practices and revealed One Nation’s desire to cosy up to the US gun lobby to find ways of funding its domestic campaign to overturn our gun laws.

The documentary has exposed the thinking of some of the party’s most senior figures about taking control of the parliament and their obsession with Muslim immigration.

How to Sell a Massacre P1 | Al Jazeera Investigations.

Al Jazeera senior producer Peter Charley did this by placing actor-turned journalist Rodger Muller in the field to impersonate the head of a fake pro-gun lobby group called Gun Rights Australia. The pair then pandered to One Nation’s desire for financial support and international endorsement and exploited US gun lobbyists’ fears about Australia’s strict gun laws.

They got away with this for three years, gaining unprecedented access to the halls of the NRA and to the minds of two One Nation officials, Queensland state leader Steve Dickson and the party’s controversial chief of staff, James Ashby.




Read more:
How Australia’s NRA-inspired gun lobby is trying to chip away at gun control laws, state by state


A matter of ethics

There are at least two ethical questions about this documentary.

The first is whether the producers have overstepped the mark by not only reporting what they saw but creating the scenario in which the events occurred.

The second concerns the program’s extensive use of hidden cameras.

On the first matter, the issue is whether the program created the meeting between One Nation and the NRA and therefore acted irresponsibly by entrapping the subjects of the film.

In his account of what happened, Rodger Muller put it this way:

Then Charley asked me to contact Pauline Hanson’s One Nation – a far-right pro-gun Australian political party. Charley wanted me to find out if any connections existed between One Nation and the US gun lobby. And so began another chapter in my life as an avid “gunner”.

When I approached One Nation Chief of Staff James Ashby and mentioned my NRA connections, he told me he wanted to visit the US to meet them. I set up meetings in Washington and soon Ashby and One Nation’s Steve Dickson were on a flight to the US.

I was there, ready to meet them. And our hidden cameras were all primed and ready to go.

This suggests that Muller and Al Jazeera were catalysts and enabled the connection between One Nation and the NRA. But it also demonstrates that there was a desire on the part of One Nation to meet the US gun lobby, and – as later becomes clear – the party was motivated to do so to raise funds and make political connections.

So is this responsible journalism?

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance code of ethics – the protocols by which thoughtful journalists operate in Australia – is largely silent on this issue.

It doesn’t say anything explicitly about creating the news by making connections between players to observe what happens next. But it does stress the need to “report and interpret honestly”.

It calls on reporters to use “fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material” and to “respect personal privacy”. But the code also acknowledges journalists both scrutinise and exercise power. The preamble makes the point that journalism animates democracy.

Most importantly, in its guiding cause, the code states:

ethical journalism requires conscientious decision-making in context.

It allows for any of its other clauses to be overridden to achieve “substantial advancement of the public interest”.

So is it wrong to make and enable connections that might not otherwise happen in order to observe the outcomes? Is this fair and honest and responsible?

Like many things, the answer might be dependent on the motivation. From where I stand, it looks like Al Jazeera’s motivation was to get to the heart of something fundamentally important that would otherwise remain opaque.

Breaches of privacy and deceptive conduct

And while we’re pondering that one, there’s the perennial ethical question about hidden cameras.

This isn’t your garden variety case of a tabloid TV program exposing a dodgy car salesmen or a real estate scammer. In this film, the use of hidden cameras directly places several parts of the code of ethics against that all important public interest override.

The question is whether the public’s right to know is so important that it justifies the film’s deceptive conduct and breaches of privacy.

For me, the use of hidden cameras can clearly be defended when a publicly funded Australian political party, that knows what it’s doing is dodgy, is making connections to “change Australia” by gaining the balance of power in the parliament and “working hand in glove with the United States”.

It is highly likely the extent of One Nation’s behaviour could only be exposed through this sort of reportage. James Ashby is captured repeatedly reminding others they need to be secretive in their dealings with the NRA.

The public has a clear right to know what One Nation is up to. This is especially the case when part of its mission is to learn new techniques to manipulate the public debate to pursue an agenda of overturning the ban on guns following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre.

The NRA are media experts

There’s something else about this program that justifies the use of hidden cameras. It exposes the utter cynicism of the media messaging and media training that underpins the NRA like nothing I have ever seen before.




Read more:
What the NRA can teach us about the art of public persuasion


In a closed meeting with NRA officials, One Nation is given a crash course on how to deal with bad press, particularly following mass shootings.

Lars Dalseide, an NRA media liaison officer, is captured saying pro-gun lobbyists should smear supporters of gun control by accusing them of exploiting the tragedy.

He even provides a useful retort to anyone who might suggest that gun ownership might be a factor in a mass shooting. He says:

How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forth your political agenda.

“Just shame them to the whole idea,” he suggests, by arguing pro-gun campaigners should declare to opponents:

If your policy isn’t good enough to stand on its own, how dare you use their deaths to push that forward.

As he says this, Ashby is recorded replying: “That’s really good, very strong”.

Some of that phrasing seems familiar in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, suggesting parts of the NRA’s playbook have already made their way down under.

This documentary underscores two things.

The brutal tactics of the gun lobby and the operations of One Nation need exposing. Journalism sometimes has to take on the unsavoury job of extracting the truth from those who do not want to share it.The Conversation

Andrew Dodd, Director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

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

FactCheck: has Pauline Hanson voted ‘effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull government’ in 2018?


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This year [Pauline Hanson] has voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull government. Honestly you may as well vote LNP if you are voting One Nation because there is no difference.

– Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek, doorstop interview, Caboolture, Queensland, July 10, 2018

In recent weeks, senior Labor Party figures have sought to draw attention to the voting patterns of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, arguing that a vote for the minor party is a vote for the Coalition.

At the Labor campaign launch in the Queensland seat of Longman ahead of Saturday’s crucial byelections, opposition leader Bill Shorten said it’s “a fact that if you vote One Nation, you are voting [Liberal National Party]. You are not protesting, you are being used to send a vote to the LNP.”

On the same day, shadow finance minister Jim Chalmers described One Nation as “the wholly-owned subsidiary of Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party”.

Earlier this month, deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said that in 2018, Pauline Hanson had “voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull Government”.

Let’s look at the records.

Checking the source

In response to The Conversation’s request for sources and comment, Tanya Plibersek said:

Pauline Hanson voted with the Liberals to cut school funding and voted to cut family benefits while she voted herself a massive $7,000 a year tax cut. Australian voters deserve to know the truth about Hanson’s voting record in Canberra.

Plibersek’s comment related to votes on second and third reading votes (including amendments) on legislation.

Plibersek’s office highlighted 20 such votes in 2018 in which Labor and the Coalition disagreed. Of those, Hanson abstained from one vote, and voted 18 times with the government. (The equivalent of 95% of the time, with the abstention excluded.)

A spokesperson told The Conversation Plibersek used the qualifier “effectively” in her original comment to indicate that Hanson voted with the Coalition almost all of the time.


Verdict

Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said Pauline Hanson has “voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull Government” in 2018.

Parliamentary records show the figure to be between 83-86%, depending on the measure used.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has cast 169 formal votes in the Senate to date in 2018. Of those, it was in agreement with the government 83% of the time.

If we look at the 99 occasions where the government and opposition were in disagreement, and One Nation cast an influential vote, we see that the minor party voted with the government 86% of the time.


Voting in the Senate

Votes in the Senate can be determined “on the voices” or “by division”.

For a vote to pass on the voices, a majority of senators must call “aye” in response to the question posed by the chair.

If two or more senators challenge the chair’s conclusion about whether the “ayes” or “noes” are in the majority, a division is called.

Bells are then rung for four minutes to call senators to the chamber. The question is posed again, and senators vote by taking their place on the right or left hand side of the chair, before the votes are counted by tellers.

Voting records are only published for votes passed by division.

How has One Nation voted in 2018?

We can look to parliamentary records to test Plibersek’s claim.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party is represented in the parliament by party leader and Queensland senator Pauline Hanson, and West Australian senator Peter Georgiou. New South Wales senator Brian Burston was a One Nation senator until June 2018.

Plibersek’s comment referred to votes on the second and third readings of legislation in the full Senate, excluding procedural votes, motions and votes in Senate committees.

But votes that take place in Senate committees, after the second reading, but before the third, are also important. Much of the legislative process is done “in committee”, where various parties propose amendments to legislation, and these are voted on.

So counting only the full Senate votes on legislation as being significant, as Plibersek did, does not give the full picture.

Stages of consideration of bills in the Australian Senate.
Parliament of Australia, Brief Guides to Senate Procedure

In this FactCheck, I will consider all the divisions, from a number of different angles.

There have been 187 divisions in the Senate so far this year. Of those, One Nation:

  • voted with the Coalition on 141 occasions (or 75% of the time)
  • voted against the Coalition on 28 occasions (or 15% of the time), and
  • abstained from voting on 18 occasions (or 10% of the time).

Of the 169 divisions where One Nation voted, it was in agreement with the government 83% of the time.

But it’s important to consider the balance of power.

When the Coalition and Labor vote the same way, minor party votes do not affect the outcome. When the Coalition and Labor are in disagreement, minor party votes are all important.

There have been 110 such divisions between the Coalition and Labor in the Senate in 2018 to date.

In these 110 divisions, One Nation:

  • voted with the Coalition on 85 occasions (or 77% of the time)
  • voted against the Coalition on 14 occasions (or 13% of the time), and
  • abstained from voting on 11 occasions (10% of the time).

If we look at the 99 divisions where the Coalition and Labor were in disagreement, and One Nation cast an influential vote, we see that the party voted with the Coalition 86% of the time.

By comparison, in the 110 divisions where Labor opposed the government, the Australian Greens supported the Coalition 5% of the time, and the Centre Alliance (formerly Nick Xenophon Team) did so 56% of the time.

The calculations for the Greens and Centre Alliance above do not include abstentions and cases where the party vote was split. – Adrian Beaumont

Blind review

The author’s points and statistics appear to be all in order.

As the FactCheck shows, while One Nation has not voted with the government 100% of the time, it has supported the Coalition in a large majority of cases. – Zareh Ghazarian


The Conversation FactCheck is accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network.

The Conversation’s FactCheck unit was the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of the first worldwide to be accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network, an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the US. Read more here.

The ConversationHave you seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

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

FactCheck: is Australia’s population the ‘highest growing in the world’?


Liz Allen, Australian National University

We’re the highest growing country in the world – with 1.6% increase, and that’s double than a lot of other countries.

– One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, interview on Sky News Australia, May 9, 2018

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has proposed a plebiscite be held in tandem with the next federal election to allow voters to have “a say in the level of migration coming into Australia”.

Hanson has suggested cutting Australia’s Migration Programme cap from the current 190,000 people per year to around 75,000-100,000 per year.

On Sky News, Hanson said Australia is “the highest growing country in the world”.

The senator added that at 1.6%, Australia’s population growth was “double [that of] a lot of other countries”.

Are those statements correct?

Checking the source

In response to The Conversation’s request for sources and comment, a spokesperson for Pauline Hanson said the senator “talks about population growth in the context of our high level of immigration because in recent years, immigration has accounted for around 60% of Australia’s population growth”.

The spokesperson added:

Australian Bureau of Statistics migration data for 2015-16 show that Australians born overseas represent 28% of the population, far higher than comparable countries like Canada (22%), UK (13%) or the US (14%).

World Bank data for 2017 show that Australia’s population growth was 1.6%, much higher than comparable countries with immigration programs like Canada (1.2%), the UK (0.6%) and the US (0.7%).


Verdict

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was correct to say Australia’s population grew by 1.6% in the year to June 2017. But she was incorrect to say Australia is “the highest growing country in the world”.

According to the most accurate international data, the country with the fastest growing population is Oman, on the Arabian Peninsula.

Senator Hanson said Australia’s 1.6% population growth was “double than a lot of other countries”. It is fair to say that Australia’s population growth rate is double that of many other countries, including the United States (0.7%) and United Kingdom (0.7%), for example.

Since Hanson’s statement, Australia’s population growth rate for the period ending June 2017 has been revised upwards to 1.7%. But Hanson’s number was correct at the time of her statement, and the revision doesn’t change the outcome of this FactCheck.

In terms of the 35 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Luxemberg was the fastest growing country in 2016, with Australia coming in fifth.

Caution must be used when making international population comparisons. It’s important to put the growth rates in the context of the total size, density and demographic makeup of the population, and the economic stage of the country.


How do we calculate population growth?

A country’s population growth, or decline, is determined by the change in the estimated number of residents. Those changes include the number of births and deaths (known as natural increase), and net overseas migration.

In Australia, both temporary and permanent overseas migrants are included in the calculation of population size.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Australia’s population grew by 1.6% in the year to June 2017 – as Senator Hanson said.

Since Hanson’s statement, Australia’s population growth rate for the period ending June 2017 has been revised upwards to 1.7%. But as said in the verdict, Hanson’s number was correct at the time of her statement, and the revision doesn’t change any of the other outcomes of this FactCheck.

That’s an increase of 407,000 people in a population of 24.6 million.

All states and territories saw positive population growth in the year to June 2017, with Victoria recording the fastest growth rate (2.4%), and South Australia recording the slowest growth rate (0.6%).




Read more:
FactCheck: is South Australia’s youth population rising or falling?


Is Australia’s population the ‘highest growing in the world’?

No, it’s not.

There are different ways of reporting population data.

Population projections are statements about future populations based on certain assumptions regarding the future of births, deaths and migration.

Population estimates are statistics based on data from a population for a previous time period. Population estimates provide a more accurate representation of actual dynamics.

World Bank data for 2016 (based on population estimates) provide us with the most accurate international comparison.

According to those data, Australia’s growth rate – 1.5% for 2016 – placed it at 86th in the world. The top 10 ranked countries grew by between 3-5%.

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/xmNEi/9/

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/QHYfE/5/

How does Australia’s growth compare to other OECD countries?

Comparison of Australia’s average annual population growth with other OECD countries shows Australia’s rate of population growth is among the highest in the OECD, but not the highest.

This is true whether we look at annual averages for five year bands between 1990 and 2015, or single year data.

Looking again at the World Bank data, Australia’s rate of population growth for 2016, at 1.5%, was double that of many other OECD countries, including the United Kingdom (0.7%) and United States (0.7%).

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/L8bMM/4/

Permanent vs temporary migration levels

Hanson has proposed a national vote on what she describes as Australia’s “run away rates of immigration”.

The senator has suggested reducing Australia’s Migration Programme cap from the current level of 190,000 people per year to 75-100,000 people per year. The expected intake of 190,000 permanent migrants was not met over the last few years. Permanent migration for 2017-18 has dropped to 162,400 people, due to changes in vetting processes.

The greatest contribution to the growth of the Australian population (63%) currently comes from overseas migration, as Hanson’s office noted in their response to The Conversation.

The origin countries of migrants are becoming more diverse, posing socioeconomic benefits and infrastructure challenges for Australia.

Sometimes people confuse net overseas migration (the total of all people moving in and out of Australia in a certain time frame), with permanent migration (the number of people who come to Australia to live). They are not the same thing.

Net overseas migration includes temporary migration. And net overseas migration is included in population data. This means our population growth reflects our permanent population, plus more.

Temporary migrants are a major contributor to population growth in Australia – in particular, international students.

In the most recent data (2014-15), net temporary migrants numbered just under 132,000, a figure that included just over 77,000 net temporary students.

The international student market is Australia’s third largest export.

Looking back at Australia’s population growth

Population changes track the history of the nation. This includes events like post-war rebuilding – including the baby boom and resettlement of displaced European nationals – to subsequent fluctuations in birth rates, and net overseas migration.

We can see these events reflected in the rates of growth from 1945 to the present.

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/urTQB/3/

The rate of population growth in Australia increased markedly in 2007, before peaking at 2.1% in 2009 (after the height of the global financial crisis, in which the Australian economy fared better than many others).

Since 2009, annual population growth has bounced around between a low of 1.4% and a high of 1.8%.

The longer term average for population growth rates since 1947 is 1.6% (the same as it is currently).

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/CHC8w/1/

Interpreting population numbers

It’s worth remembering that a higher growth rate per annum coming from a lower population base is usually still lower growth in terms of actual numbers of people, when compared to a lower growth rate on a higher population base.

There can also be significant fluctuations in population growth rates from year to year – so we need to use caution when making assessments based on changes in annual rates.

Economic factors, government policies, and special events are just some of the things that can influence year-on-year population movements.

Other factors we should consider when making international comparisons include the:

  • total size of the population
  • population density
  • demographic composition, or age distribution, of the population, and
  • the economic stage of the country (for example, post industrialisation or otherwise).

Any changes to the migration program should be considered alongside the best available research. – Liz Allen


Blind review

The FactCheck is fair and correct.

The statement about Australia’s population growth rate over the year to June 30, 2017, is correct. The preliminary growth rate published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the time of Senator Hanson’s statement was 1.60%; the rate was subsequently revised to 1.68%.

It is also true that many developed countries have lower population growth rates than Australia, but some have higher rates. According to United Nations Population Division population estimates, Oman had the fastest growing population between 2014 and 2015 (the latest data available).

With regards to misinterpretations of net overseas migration, it should also be stated that some people think this refers to the number of people migrating to Australia. It is actually immigration minus emigration – the difference between the number arriving and the number leaving. – Tom Wilson


The Conversation FactCheck is accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network.

The Conversation’s FactCheck unit was the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of the first worldwide to be accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network, an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the US. Read more here.

The ConversationHave you seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

Liz Allen, Demographer, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, Australian National University

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

Twenty years on, One Nation is still chaotic, controversial and influential



File 20180607 137288 1ckhs5x.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
With, for now, three Senate votes as her bargaining chips, Hanson’s impact – on government policy or on the major parties’ electoral strategy – is still being felt.
AAP/Peter Mathew

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

Twenty years since its spectacular electoral debut in Queensland, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation remains a potent, if enigmatic, political force. Despite the party’s internal volatility and public displays of disunity, it’s still poised to play a significant role in the next federal election, especially in key marginal seats in Queensland.

The weeks approaching the winter parliamentary break have witnessed almost daily revelations of One Nation’s in-fighting, keeping Pauline Hanson in the headlines.

Recent ineligibility rulings, resignations and demotions have enveloped the party in a seeming storm of self-implosion.

Its stocks in the federal senate, where it had four senators elected in 2016, are now diminished. Depending on out-of-favour senator Brian Burston’s decision concerning his future with the party, there may be further attrition to come.




Read more:
ReachTEL polls: Labor trailing in Longman and Braddon, and how Senate changes helped the Coalition


Many observers have noted how these public rows between Hanson and party colleagues, and the loss of numbers in parliament through bad blood or bad management, recall events in the party’s shambolic formative years. Some predict that history is set to repeat, and One Nation is again on a rapid path to self-destruction.

But such assumptions might underestimate the stubborn persistence of Hanson and, importantly, her party’s supporters.

June 13 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1998 Queensland state election, when Peter Beattie was first elected Premier amid One Nation’s storming onto the electoral scene. The election returned the ALP to office in Queensland, beginning a 14-year period of Labor hegemony in that state, but also created a legacy of a different kind for One Nation and its controversial figurehead.

That same election set a benchmark for minor party disruption of the status quo that others (including, lately, the revived One Nation) have aimed for but fallen well short of ever since.

Fifteen months after the party’s formation in March 1997, One Nation won 22.7% of the primary vote and 11 seats in Queensland’s parliament, delivering a shock to the political “establishment”.

But within the space of eight months, punctuated by its MPs’ ill-discipline and organisational turmoil, the party disintegrated into a handful of independents and the newly-formed (and short-lived) City Country Alliance party. With the exception of two of these independents, all other former One Nation MPs lost their seats at the next state election, in Peter Beattie’s landslide 2001 victory.

One Nation’s barnstorming debut at that 1998 election was subsequently thought to be a “flash in the pan”. But this perhaps overlooks that One Nation retained seats in Queensland’s parliament until the party’s last remaining MP, Rosa Lee Long, lost her seat of Tablelands in 2009.

More recently, Hanson very nearly won the state seat of Lockyer for One Nation at Queensland’s 2015 election. The “unschooled” behaviour of the party’s elected MPs and officials was not enough to turn all its supporters away from the maverick fringes of politics and back toward the mainstream parties.

The intervening years haven’t seen the major parties entirely recoup earlier losses of support. In the absence of One Nation, voters abandoning the established parties have been attracted to the likes of Katter’s Australian Party, the Palmer United Party, and other eponymous state and federal groupings.

Recent elections at state and federal levels have seen diminishing primary vote support for the major parties and a surge in popularity (if not exactly translated to electoral success) of smaller parties.

Since re-emerging in recent years, One Nation has attracted 5-15% of the primary vote at state elections in Western Australia and Queensland – despite falling well short of expectations. In the electorates it actually contested, the proportion is much higher, climbing into the 20s and low 30s.

It seems the “protest vote” element in the electorate hasn’t really gone away since One Nation first departed the scene, and is now at record levels. As witnessed in Queensland’s recent state election, almost 31% of primary votes were cast for non-major parties, exceeding the 30% non-major primary vote at the 1998 election.

In this atmosphere of volatile voter sentiment, Hanson – in addition to a slew of other, newer minor party identities – has well and truly established herself on the political scene again.




Read more:
Despite the election hype, some of the media attention on One Nation was justified


Polling undertaken in the federal seat of Longman, due to go to a by-election in late July, has shown increased support for One Nation. This is at the potential cost of the former Labor incumbent, Susan Lamb – who narrowly won the seat from the government in 2016 in part due to One Nation preferences.

This underlines the extent to which Hanson’s party is likely to influence the outcome in several Queensland seats at the next federal election, making the state again a key electoral battleground.

One Nation has now been on the political scene almost as long as the DLP or the Australian Democrats – perhaps its period in the political wilderness extended the party’s shelf-life and appeal to a new swathe of “disaffected” voters.

The ConversationDespite its dysfunction – frequently laid at Hanson’s feet – and often inconsistent policy positions, the party has cemented an influential place in the federal arena, albeit a status that’s on the verge of diminishing drastically.

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland

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