Contributed by Jim Hayes
As one Nation heads to the West Australia election Pauline Hanson shows again that she is leading a party that she regards as her own feudal fiefdom. She believes that she owns it and ultimately makes all the decisions.
What she obviously does not realise is that this is not sustainable, because increasingly, others get locked out. It can only breed internal friction. One Nation is already factionalised, as a result of the various outside groups that have infiltrated it over the years. Hanson’s style works to divide the party even more.
But the biggest problem for One Nation is the reconciliation between what it promises and what it is beginning to deliver. A part of Australia identified with the new political force, because it promised to bring about change. Consider the Party’s heartlands. They are often among the most economically depressed parts of the country, where the local and generally agriculturally based economy has not been doing so well, towns are slowly dying and job prospects are poor.
Over the years, governments have cut back and local services have gone backwards. Most of these parts of Australia have been National Party heartlands. Much of the local populations feel betrayed, not only by the Nationals, but as they see it, politicians as a group.
One Nation promised to work to reverse all of this and teach the politicians a good lesson. Pauline Hanson took on the persona of the anti-politician. Her lack of sophistication, her propensity to shoot from the lip, rather than the brain, contrasted her to the image of the clever and slippery tongued politicians in disrepute. It has been an asset for One Nation.
There is the dark side. One Nation is also largely a creation of News Corporation, which brought one Nation to Australia’s notice and created the Pauline Hanson persona. Through this nexus, One Nation could constantly be paraded. Pauline Hanson could be given more attention than the prime minister. The Party could be remade in the image of News Limited.
Pauline Hanson may believe that the last word is hers. But it is really Rupert Murdoch and his people that are calling the shots. Their interest is not meeting the concerns of those at the base, but to pursue sectional interest through the whipping up of hate politics. This element might have always been there. Now it has been bought out to the front.
The political content coming from One Nation’s leadership is lifted straight out of the tabloid press. The most sinister part of it, rather than take it up to the Coalition that is making up the present government, One Nation is about taking what the government is already doing to the limit and plays the game it claims to be against.
The recent marriage of the Hanson leadership with the Liberal Party makes sense. It is the logical outcome of a political direction under the control of News Corporation; a strategy designed, above all else, to remake the Liberal Party around its own its own fascist like beliefs as the answer to the problems purported to have infected Australia.
For One Nation, this means internal friction between the two sides of the Party that cannot be reconciled. It has the potential of leading to its disintegration.
Internal friction is building. Pauline Hanson, increasingly finds herself going around disposing of what she sees as problems. She works to consolidate her control over the organisation, replacing individuals with loyalists, without proper internal process. Candidates who voice an opinion are immediately disendorsed, by arbitrary command from Pauline Hanson. She reminds all that this is her party.
It also seems like the party finances are her own personal finances. She has transferred funds to personal accounts. At one point, she even told prospective candidates that she would have to pay her $250,000 if they quit. She is gaining the reputation of someone, who is in it to line her own pockets.
These developments must cause waves within the ranks. All of it is coming to play in the lead up to the West Australia election. The latest is her disinterment of two candidates, Dane Sorensen for North West Central and Sandy Baraiolo for Thornlie in southern Perth, because they questioned the alignment with the Liberal Party and the preference swap deals arranged at the top. The fiction that they did not meet the proper standards cannot cover the real reason.