Much of the talk of the election has been about the impact of Pauline Hanson and her return to federal parliament after a gap of 18 years.
This time she will be occupying the purple benches of the Senate rather than the Green ones of the House of Reps but she will likely bring back the same unreconstructed firebrand politics to the chamber, and to the nation, with the same undoubted national coverage.
As always her media coverage exceeds her influence, and I heard one commentator acidly describe her as a “wholly owned subsidiary of Channel Seven” but she will be an important voice in the next parliament and as such, worthy of attention.
I am no fan of Ms Hanson’s political views however when I was working for the Gatton Star newspaper in 2015 I had the opportunity to cover in close detail her campaign to win the state seat of Lockyer.
I ended up with similar feelings and a similar respect for Ms Hanson that journalist and author Margo Kingston had for her after she covered her (Pauline’s) 1998 campaign to win the seat of Blair, a story Ms Kingston recounted in her book “Off the Rails”. Ms Kingston could see, as I could too, Pauline Hanson had a great way with people and formed quick bonds with everyone she met on the street.
Ms Hanson narrowly lost that 1998 election campaign, and lost even more narrowly in Lockyer in 2015 (another 50 votes would have put her in state parliament) but I had to admire her persistence, energy and ambitious nature.
I remember getting an angry late night call from her when I suggested her ultimate aim was to become prime minister.
“That’s not true, I never said that,” she said to me. “I know,” I responded, “that was just my opinion and it’s an opinion I haven’t changed despite what you just said.”
Of course being outside the major parties, Ms Hanson will never become prime minister. But it is clear she can tap into deep wells of resentment and command a lot of votes. Her views on “Islamageddon” and climate change are nonsense but the major parties should take her seriously nonetheless. She represents a strong core of disenfranchised and disillusioned people who believe she is the only one speaking for them. DB